DESPITE Meralco’s roller-coaster ride in Norman Black’s first conference as head coach, Fil-Am guard Jared Dillinger considers it “a good stepping stone” ahead of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Bolts posted a 7-6 win-loss record under Black during the Philippine Cup, ousting grand slam champion Purefoods during the initial phase of the quarterfinals before bowing to Alaska.
Dillinger said the performance was a step in the right direction.
“Right now, the success from last conference was a good stepping stone,” Dillinger told Spin.ph. “Compared to last year, in his (Black’s) eyes, we made some improvements, but we still have lots of work to be done here.”
“And one of the concerns he wants to address was to continue to work on our conditioning because we’re not pretty good in condition compared to teams that are playing in the Finals like Alaska or like Rain or Shine, which made it to the semis.”
The left-handed 6-foot-4 noted that the Aces and the Elasto Painters were simply stronger and the Bolts are determined to get to the same level.
“They (Aces and Bolts) outworked us (in the Philippine Cup) so that’s the bar that we’re trying to reach,” he said.
The Aces humiliated the Bolts, 105-64, in a match dubbed as “Halloween Massacre” last year, before bowing to the Elasto Painters, 107-79 in an out-of-town game in Davao.
At this point, Meralco has yet to name its import for the mid-season conference, though Dillinger mentioned that they are looking to bring in someone who can provide post presence.
“We’re not one of the biggest teams. In fact, we’re pretty small, so I think having a big import can really help us in that area, who will really fill in a spot for us,” he said.
“He’s (import) gonna be a center, no doubt about that. A true post threat, but for sure, it’s gonna be someone who’s specifically gonna be a post-up player, especially in our half court offense because Reynel (Hugnatan) has been playing out of position for how many years now.”
Meralco headlines the main game of the Commissioner’s Cup’s opening night on January 27 when the Bolts take on crowd darling Barangay Ginebra at the Mall of Asia Arena.