MANILA, Philippines – Joe Devance knows very well that a No. 1 seed in the PBA quarterfinals does not guarantee that a team will simply sail through the playoffs.
Now a vital part of Barangay Ginebra, Devance still clearly remembers the 2011-12 PBA Philippine Cup, wherein he and the rest of B-Meg – now known as Star – roared to a 10-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals, wherein they had a twice-to-beat edge.
There, they found themselves matched up against the eighth-seeded Powerade Tigers, who were given little chance of upsetting the Tim Cone-coached Llamados.
However, that was exactly what happened. Behind superb performances from Gary David, Marcio Lassister, and JVee Casio, Powerade pulled off the massive upset, capped by a stunning 131-123 overtime win in the do-or-die second game.
"That was a tough pill to swallow," Devance said Friday, after Ginebra took down Mahindra, 94-80, to secure the top seed in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
"They had Gary David, JVee, and Marcio shooting crazy threes," he added.
David, who earned Best Player of the Conference honors then, was particularly unstoppable. In the deciding game, he scored 37 points, making eight of his 13 three-pointers. He knocked down the triple that sent the game into overtime, then added 10 more points in the extra period against a shell-shocked B-Meg squad.
Devance scored 11 points in that game.
"I will never forget that," said Devance. "I always think about that."
"Every time I see JVee, Marcio, and Gary David, especially him doing that thing he did," Devance added, referring to David's now iconic "hands on fire" celebration. "Man, I will never forget that."
Having gone through the painful experience with Cone, Devance is hopeful that Ginebra will not suffer the same fate.
"Hopefully, we learned from that," he said. "We need to keep grinding every day and having each other's back. That's what will make us go to the other level."
Devance also said that while the having the No. 1 seed is "cool," the Gin Kings will do well to forget all that they achieved in the elimination round.
"We fought hard to get where we are at, we earned it, but nothing is guaranteed," he warned. "Hopefully, we can make the Finals again. Being the No. 1 seed does not mean anything. It just gives us a better chance, but still not promised."
The Gin Kings will not know their quarterfinals opponent until late Sunday night, as GlobalPort and Alaska are set to play in a do-or-die game for the eighth seed.
In the meantime, Devance is taking the opportunity to rest his problematic foot, which required regular shots of pain killers during their playoff run in the All-Filipino Cup.
"I hope I don't need (shots)," said Devance. "I'll just play through the pain."
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