Despite interest from Phoenix, free agent Joe Devance to stay with Ginebra

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PBA Media Bureau

Barangay Ginebra has put versatile veteran player Joe Devance in the unrestricted free agent list and Phoenix Fuel was the first team to express interest publicly.

But Devance isn’t going anywhere, according to coach Tim Cone.

“It’s kinda a loophole in the rule where other teams cannot claim that player. He has to get into an agreement,” Cone told InterAksyon.

“Joe is happy where he is at. He has no reason to leave. We talked to him about it. We know he’s coming back six to eight weeks, hopefully.”

According to Cone, teams can try to lure Devance away from Barangay Ginebra, but believes the veteran cager will hang on and stay where he is.

“They could try. But I don’t think they will be successful. He’ll take a P5-million contract if he can,” said Cone in jest. “He has no reason to go. We know that. We don’t feel he’s gonna go. A loophole in the league, we’re taking advantage of it.

Ginebra still has the rights to Devance despite his status, according to the league’s winningest coach.

“It’s been done before to other star players like Ryan Reyes, Kelly Williams and even Ranidel de Ocampo. Obviously, no one’s going to steal Ranidel from anybody and no one is going to steal Joe from us. It’s a loophole in the rules. It’s not illegal. It’s legal to do it, so we’re gonna do it,” he said.

Devance was put on the unrestricted free agent oist to allow John Wilson, a practice player, to crack the roster.

“We could have kept John as a practice player. John fills out our 15th player. We wanted John to be active because he makes more money if he’s active because when you’re a practice player your salary is lower. It gives him an opportunity to make more money. Joe understood it. He’s doing it basically for John. John gets a chance to possibly get some minutes. It gives us an opportunity to showcase John,” added Cone.

“John has been working hard and he deserves to play. So we elevated him from a practice player to the roster. We talked to Joe about being put in the unrestricted free agent. He’s not gonna lose anything that is owed to him. It’s just a formality.”

Devance status as an unrestricted free agent caught the attention of Phoenix coach Louie Alas, the Fil-Am player’s former mentor.

Alas coached Devance in the PBL while they were together at Toyota Otis and the comebacking bench tactician expressed interest on acquiring the services of his old ward.

“Of course, I’m serious on the possibility of getting him. Joe Devance is Joe Devance. Tatanungin ko sina Boss paano dapat gawin,” Alas said.

But Phoenix team manager Paolo Bugia downplayed the possibility of getting Devance knowing that everything has already been pre-arranged by Ginebra.

“Mukhang may usapan na sila eh,” added Bugia.