By Jonas Terrado
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel forward Jared Dillinger is a firm believer that his former team Meralco will one day get over the hump and win its first PBA championship.
The veteran forward admitted hehad mixed emotions after being part of the Ginebra team that beat the Bolts in the recent Governors’ Cup Finals that ended in five games.
While he still savors being on the winning side of the Ginebra-Meralco trilogy, Dillinger is also wishing his one-time comrades will finally get their day in the sun.
“I know it’s tough over there, so I do feel bad (for them),” Dillinger said. “But at the same time, they are all grown men and they’re gonna keep working, they’re gonna keep grinding until they can get that championship trophy one of these days coz I’m sure it’s gonna happen.”
A hamstring problem forced Dillinger to miss most of the 2016 Governors’ Cup Finals that saw Meralco absorb a 4-2 series defeat to Ginebra despite taking a 2-1 lead.
Dillinger played all seven games of the second meeting in the 2017 edition of the season-ending conference but the Bolts were again frustrated by Ginebra in the decider before 54,000 fans at the Philippine Arena.
The latest title showdown was expected to be a grindout affair that saw Dillinger months removed from signing with Ginebra after being placed in the unrestricted free agent list by Meralco.
It looked headed that way when both teams split the first two games, but Ginebra was able to make adjustments and won the next three games, clinching the crown at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I do feel a little bit bad because I know how much those guys work over there,” Dillinger said.
“I’ve been on that side with them, all those countless hours of extra work after practice, sitting in there watching film review with the players and just discussing how we gonna get over the hump.”
The 36-year-old was seldom-used during the Finals, registering a total of seven points and four rebounds in three appearances.
Dillinger said his Meralco buddies sent congratulatory messages days after the Finals.
“They’re so happy for me, congratulating me, wishing me the best and hoping that I can get more championships,” he said. “It’s funny though but that’s what it’s really all about here.
“I’m referring to how the PBA community is so small that we’re all pulling for each other. I’m talking about the players and the relationships that you make with your former coaches, bosses, you know, we all want the best for each other.
“If Meralco had won this championship, I would have messaged all of my teammates over there and say ‘Hey, I’m so happy for you guys. I’m happy that you got the championship.’ So it’s really just the quality of the relationship that you make in this whole PBA experience that’s really what it’s all about.”