MERALCO guard Jared Dillinger said he had no intention to hurt Alaska's Calvin Abueva, or much less strangle him, during an altercation that marred the Bolts' 74-65 win over the Aces on Friday.
Speaking on the eve of a PBA review into their controversial skirmish which Dillinger lamented has turned into a "circus," the Fil-American said all he did when he confronted Abueva after a collision was pin him down as he said some words to the controversial Alaska sophomore.
“I never put my hand around Calvin’s throat … not even close to that. I pinned him down, but that was the most I did,” said Dillinger, denying an accusation first made by Alaska owner Wilfred Uytengsu.
Asked what he told Abueva, Dillinger said: “I told him, ‘Boy, you need to respect me, and you need to respect the game!’ And then he didn’t respond. That was it!"
The former cadet at the US Air Force Academy continued: “If it was my intention to hurt Abueva, it could have been worse. Nobody can stop me. But I am not that type. I can’t just go out there and run amok. Sorry, that’s not me.
“My career in the PBA … I have never been known to hurt or hit people or do acts in that type of nature. I was just trying to tell the kid how to play the game the right way,” he added.
Dillinger said he is well-equipped in basic military training from armed combat to survival in the wilderness, using patience and self-control, in the three years he spent studying at the US Air Force Academy.
But the former Gilas Pilipinas mainstay said he was also taught the value of anger management and restraint.
“I was supposed to be in the Air Force, only that I focused on my basketball career,” he said. "Back in there, I was taught to show restraint, discipline and have integrity. There I have learned how to channel and conduct myself properly in life and on the court.”
Asked if he felt Abueva deliberately hit him during the collision that saw the two fall over the baseline railing, Dillinger said he was giving the former NCAA MVP the benefit of the doubt.
“I am not saying I don’t believe him, but given Calvin’s track record and how he plays the game… I am just not sure. He’s been hitting me a couple of times (during the game),” he said.
Asked why he pulled Abueva’s jersey after the Aces star blocked his shot, Dillinger explained: “We both lost our momentum. I grabbed him, he came up over me. You can’t control that. But I got an elbow, a poke in the eye, a hit in the face… Now, I don’t know if it was intentional."
But Dillinger said he never held a grudge against Abueva after the skirmish.
“As soon as the play was over, we touched hands, everything was cool and we just went back to play the game. It’s not like there was any revenge or anything. Everything was okay afterwards,” he said.
The Meralco star said he’d rather move on and wait for the decision of the commissioner.
“I know the right decisions can be made and in due time, things will be okay. And we both can go back to playing the sport we both love. Nothing against Calvin,” he added.
Any advice to the younger Abueva?
“Calvin will learn. He will learn how to balance the way he plays the game. He’ll learn in time, it’s only his second year. He is good player,” Dillinger said.
“He just needs to learn to channel his showmanship and make himself a better player. He is already a great player! He’s gonna be okay,” he added.