BEING named to the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the Fiba-World Cup is a "humbling experience" for Fil-Am guard Jared Dillinger, who sees it as a chance to make up for lost time.
Dillinger was a shoo-in for the original Gilas team of coach Chot Reyes, but a vehicular injury that sidelined him for months kept him out of the squad that finished runner-up to Iran in last year’s Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship.
That’s the reason the 30-year-old Meralco star was so glad to be named to the 17-man pool formed by Reyes to prepare for the Fiba World Cup set in Spain later this year.
“It’s been almost a year since everything has happened. I’m just glad to be back. This is such a blessing and a humbling experience,” Dillinger told Spin.ph on Saturday shortly after Meralco’s practice.
Dillinger was one of three new faces in the national pool along with San Miguel Beer sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter and Rain or Shine guard Paul Lee.
Also included in the pool were Ginebra rookie center Greg Slaughter and Rain or Shine big man Beau Belga, the last two players cut by Reyes in the Gilas roster for the FIBA-Asia tilt.
The Bolts wingman said he followed the exploits of Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba-Asia meet from the US while recovering from the fractured pelvic bone he suffered during the vehicular accident April of last year.
“I had a lot of mixed emotions watching them (Gilas team) play. But I was proud to see that team bring so much pride and joy,” recalled the former University of Hawaii standout.
“But at the same time, I wanted to be there. Though it was a difficult time then to accept. How I wish I was there but I still recovering (from the injury).”
Dillinger, the No. 2 pick overall by Talk ‘N Text in the 2008 PBA draft, stressed that returning to the Gilas pool entails a huge responsibility as the team carries the hopes of the more than 97 million Filipinos.
“It is really a big privilege and an honor to represent the country,” the 6-foot-4 Dillinger. “I’m happy but at the same time, it’s a big responsibility on our shoulders because you have to play and give your very best.”
Playing for the national team is nothing new to Dillinger, who was part of the Philippine team coached by Yeng Guiao that made the quarterfinals of the 2009 Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in Tianjin, China.
He also played for Reyes' Gilas team that finished fourth in the 2012 Fiba-Asia Cup in Tokyo, Japan where he averaged 9.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 18.4 minutes of play.