Meralco skipper Jared Dillinger not rushing return as he recovers from knee injury
Jared Dilinger is trying to make sure the strained knee wouldn't become a recurring injury. Jerome Ascano

ALREADY lacking in size, Meralco has also opened the conference without big guard Jared Dillinger, who is still out with a strained right knee.

The 6-foot-4 Dillinger said he has actually spent the conference break undergoing therapy and strengthening to ensure he’ll be 100 percent fit by the time he’s cleared by the doctors.

The 30-year-old left-handed Fil-Am guard said he hurt his right knee during the Bolts’ quarterfinal win over Purefoods Star in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs last year.

Although the Bolts ended the Hotshots' reign as all-Filipino champions, it came with a price. Meralco made an exit after getting beaten by Alaska in the second phase of the quarterfinals.

“I don’t think I’m gonna play. I’ve been going to the gym and working out with coaches but I’m still in the process of getting strength back in my legs because it was my right knee which I injured in the Purefoods game last conference during the playoffs,” Dillinger confided to Spin.ph on Thursday.

Dillinger isn’t rushing himself back, knowing the Commissioner’s Cup is still in the early stage.

“I took a little bit of time to heal so I could really get my strength back in my legs. It’s still early in the conference so I just want to make sure it wont be a recurring thing,” he added.

The Fil-Am guard out of the University of Hawaii was in street clothes when the Bolts, playing without a legitimate big man, upstaged the taller Barangay Ginebra Kings on opening night.

[See Run and gone? Meralco Bolts deal Ginebra a beating, spoil Ato Agustin's return to bench]

Dillinger, a many-time national player, said they are  fortunate to have import Joshua Davis, whose energetic plays pump life to the Bolts.

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“The guys seemed to be in good rhythm now, though it was also our import Josh who gave us a lot of energy and that pretty much rubbed off on us,” he said.

The soft-spoken Dillinger said there’s no timetable on his return this conference, though he expects to be back soon once he gets medical clearance.

The Bolts return to action on Friday when they face the KIA Motors Carnival at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava