This appears on philstar.com
Jared Dillinger’s change of perspective
by rick olivares
It was eight years ago when Jared Dillinger made a splash as a rookie in the Philippine Basketball Association. As the second overall pick of the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters in 2008, “JD” as he is fondly called, endeared himself to teammates, coaches, and fans for his pedal-to-the-metal game where he drove in the lane at warp speed with no care for his personal safety. Dillinger was a vital cog of a dynastic TNT team where he was a part of four championship teams.
“When JD goes on attack mode whether he’s driving through all these tall guys or pulling up for a jumper or a three, he’s just fun to watch,” said his long time teammate at TNT and now with Meralco, Jimmy Alapag. “And he gets it done on both ends of the court."
Nowadays, Dillinger’s attack mode has a new cousin, smart mode.
“It’s funny how time flies and now I’m one of the team veterans,” laughed JD of his situation now with the Meralco Bolts where he is in his third year of play. “I’ve had to change my game. I can’t keep attacking the lane now that there are even bigger players in the league. Plus, there are all these nagging injuries that I have to deal with. Now I have to read the game better, make better decisions, and get others involved. Not to say that I never passed the ball but as a team in Meralco, we need it.”
JD's first season with the Bolts in 2012-13, Meralco played better with a blend of heady veterans and talented newcomers. They were an exciting team with Chris Ross, John Wilson, rookie Cliff Hodge, go-to player Mark Cardona, sniper Sunday Salvacion, and crafty point guard Mike Cortez. A few of them had championship experience but none more bemedalled than JD.
They made a good account of themselves that season each time going deep in the playoffs although the came up empty handed. But the Bolts never built on that year’s success. The next season, was a losing one; the team’s worst in their four-year PBA history as they posted an overall record of 13-19.
Dillinger is too much of a gentleman to admit it but looking from afar, the trade to Meralco must have been like banishment. In that span of time, the turnover of players was the highest in the PBA.
The 2014-15 season was better as the team, now under Norman Black, returned to the quarterfinals and semifinals scene only to come up short again.
The Philippine Cup of this season was a washout, as the Bolts bombed at 1-10, their worst finish in any conference in team history.
Yet in the current Commissioner’s Cup, Meralco, despite taking it’s first loss of the season to contrapelo San Miguel, is still atop of the standings with a 5-1 record. “I think we have a better team this conference,” noted JD who is averaging 10.5 points (on 47% shooting from the field), 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 22 minutes of action. “We have better chemistry and our import, Arinze Onuaku has plugged our problems at center. It was a tough loss to SMB but we’re still in a good spot. Hopefully, we’ll do better in our next game.”
Dillinger admitted to missing the constant playoff participation when he was in Talk ’N Text. The Tropa won two more championships while Dillinger languished with Meralco and that has made him hungrier and more eager to help his team win. “It has been a while. It was tough watching my former teammates win a few more titles,” he admitted. “But I can’t get down about these things. I just have to work harder and help my team more.”
The arrival of former TNT teammate in Alapag has added to the Bolts’ arsenal yet providing crucial leadership that is sorely needed. “It’s now like when I was a rookie back in ’08 except I am one of the veterans now providing mentorship for talented rookies like Chris Newsome and Baser Amer.”
“Going from a winning team to a non-winning team makes you reflect about life,” Dillinger mulled. “It’s you can’t have it good all the time. Now the challenge is — what are you going to do about it?”
“Hopefully, we’ve got in ourselves a good run this conference. Nagging injuries aside, I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Jared Dillinger and the Meralco Bolts return to action this Friday, March 11, against the NLEX Road Warriors at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.