Missing Meralco's first Finals appearance tough on JD, hopes to make a difference in rematch

October 12, 2017

The last time the Meralco Bolts took on the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the PBA Finals, Jared Dillinger was reduced to a mere spectator with a injured hamstring. He watched in jubilation as it appeared like the Bolts were about to take a 3-1 lead against Ginebra, that the team that had to play without their veterans might have had enough to win it all.

And then Dillinger watched helplessly as it all fell apart. He watched as Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguiao brought Ginebra back from the dead in Game 4. He watched as Justin Brownlee ended the Kings' eight-year title drought in Game 6.

The Bolts lost by an average of 4.75 points to Ginebra in the last Governors' Cup Finals and Dillinger knew his team could have had a better shot if he was not injured.

"I've honestly been dreaming about this," Dillinger said during the finals press conference. "Just the way they beat us and I couldn't be there to help the team, it was really tough on me."

This conference, Dillinger has averaged 10.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game and he's hoping that those numbers will be enough to life Meralco and give them their first PBA title in franchise history. Dillinger also knows that he isn't the sole addition who tilt the balance in their favor.

Asked whether the Bolts have a better shot in the rematch, Dillinger's answer was succinct.

"Absolutely," he replied. "Especially, having a guy like Ranidel. I don't have to tell you what he brings to the table."

At 32 years of age, the veteran wingman knows that opportunities to win a championship will get tougher to come by specially with the stronger teams improving after every conference. He's been to the PBA Finals many times and has won five titles with TNT.

"I think my last one was 2013 when we played Rain or Shine and we went 4-0 in the Philippine Cup, Dillinger recounted. "I've done it many times but you're still going to have butterflies. You're going to see the crowd, you're going to have your adrenaline going but it's going to be fun."

Heading into the finals, Dillinger has made it a habit to sneak up on the Best Player of the Game during Meralco's wins and then splash water all over them.

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"It just became a thing. You're having fun when you're winning," Dillinger explained.

"Allen Durham is a good guy, he's a great teammate," went on about his latest victim. "He makes everyone comfortable. He's an easy dude to talk to so when it stems from your best player, it's contagious."

Dillinger has been along in his water-splashing celebration in the past few games but after this series he plans on involving the entire team, not on the court but inside the dugout, not water but champagne, not celebrating a win but a championship.