JARED Dillinger may be out for Meralco for a couple of games now, but he’s certainly enjoying the view from the bench.
The veteran big guard can’t help but be proud of the way the young Bolts had been playing so far in the PBA Philippine Cup, notwithstanding the recent retirement of acknowledged leader Jimmy Alapag and the latest injury that forced him to sit out the last two outings of the team.
The 6-foot-4 Dilinger re-injured the same right hamstring he hurt during the semifinals of the Governors Cup last season shortly after the Bolts’ first game in the all-Filipino conference.
“It’s the same hamstring I injured. I slightly strained it at practice after we played Blackwater,” said the 32-year-old native of Rapid City, South Dakota. The Bolts lost the game, 86-84.
Despite the absence of one of its ‘senior’ players, Meralco has found a way to win its next two games against NLEX and TNT Katropa for a 2-1 record, already surpassing the Bolts’ pathetic mark in the same conference last season when they finished dead-last at 1-10.
Dillinger couldn’t be any prouder of the way the Bolts have been holding the fort.
“The rookies (Ed Daquioag and Jonathan Grey) are stepping up, and everyone’s doing their part,” said the Fil-Am player. “Everyone’s coming together, and they’re just playing with a lot of rhythm now.”
After resting for almost two weeks, Dilinger has started joining the Bolts in practice although with a little bit of caution.
“It’s better be safe with an extra one or two weeks (of rest) than tear it up and be out for three more months,” he said. “We’re just trying to go about it the right way, trying to make sure we kind of take baby steps.
Dillinger said the team will try to see if he can already suit up for Meralco’s game against Alaska on Wednesday. If not, he mentioned the Bolts’ December 21 encounter against Phoenix at the San Juan Arena as the rore realistic target for his return.
As he stressed, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.”