Joe Devance, one of the key players of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel under coach Tim Cone, will miss several games of the Gin Kings in the elimination round of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43 Philippine Cup, which kicks off on December 17.
Cone, who captured his 20th PBA title last conference after leading Ginebra to back-to-back Governors’ Cup titles last October against Meralco, said Devance had underwent surgery last month to remove a bunion from his left foot and could be back at the latest February.
“We do have some problems. Joe (Devance) is out until February and he is crucial to what we do. He had surgery on his foot and he needs about three months of recovery,” Cone told The Manila Times after Ginebra’s practice at the Upper Deck gym in Ortigas.
“That’s November, December and January so hopefully we expect him to be back in February.”
Devance played through pain last conference and Cone hopes he can transform his new recruit Art dela Cruz into a dependable forward comes the Philippine Cup.
“That is one of the reasons why we got Art Dela Cruz. We feel he is like a playmaker like Joe but he is coming from an injury so we have to be little careful also,” added Cone.
Dela Cruz was acquired last conference in a trade from Blackwater together with Raymond Aguilar for Chris Ellis and Dave Marcelo.
Another problem facing the Gin Kings is the availability of Japeth Aguilar in the playoffs next year since the high-leaping forward might be loaned to Gilas Pilipinas from February 22 to 25 in the second window of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asian Qualifiers against Australia and Japan.
But Cone remains optimistic of their chances in the Philippine Cup.
“We came real close last All Filipino even without Greg (Slaughter). We made some changes since then. Greg is back and we have Art (Dela Cruz) then Jett Manuel who will be going to help us in terms of shooting the ball. Got another year of growth from Kevin (Ferrer), Scottie (Thompson) and Paulo Taha and all those guys,” said Cone.
In the last Philippine Cup, Ginebra played without the injured Slaughter but still reached the finals before losing to San Miguel Beer.