MERALCO gets a boost with the expected return of Jared Dillinger as the Bolts seek to salvage what’s left of their PBA Philippine Cup campaign in a game against Rain or Shine at the Cuneta Astrodome on Friday.
Mired at the bottom with only two wins to show in nine games, the struggling Bolts welcome back Dillinger, who had been sidelined with a recurring hamstring injury for almost two months.
The 33-year-old Dillinger has rejoined full practices since Tuesday.
“Unless something happens between now and Friday, then Friday (he’s back),” Black said after practice on Tuesday when new acquisition Chris Lutz was introduced to the team.
The addition of Lutz and the return of the 6-foot-4 Dillinger, who last played on November 27 in the Bolts’ first game of the season, tallying two points and three boards in nine minutes in a loss to Blackwater, upgrades Merlaco’s depleted small forward rotation.
That’s (small forward spot) our biggest weakness, other than obviously a big man,” Black said, adding he has been using natural power forward Cliff Hodge and rookie shooting guards Ed Daquioag and Jonathan Grey at the three-spot.
“(Hodge is) more of an inside player… even to the point where I’ve been using Jonathan Grey and Ed Daquioag as small forwards, which in our league is a bit difficult because they’re not strong enough or big enough right now to play that position,” Black said.
“But with Lutz coming in – if and when he’s healthy – and with JD returning, all of a sudden that weakness has becomes a strength,” he added.
Lutz, however, won’t be back for at least another two months, but at least they have Dillinger in tow for their last two games of the conference.
“It’s kind of late, but better late than never,” Black said ahead of the 4:15 matchup against the Elasto Painters.