Jared Dillinger has just recovered from a quad injury and from the removal of bone spurs in his foot, so the Meralco Bolts did not plan on fielding him in for their 2018 Governors’ Cup quarterfinal clash with Phoenix Fuel Masters on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, they were left with no other choice but to use him.
Head coach Norman Black decided to play the 6-foot-4 swingman, as forward Cliff Hodge suffered an apparent injury in the first half. Hodge, who has just recovered from a previous injury, was not able to return to the game.
“Well actually Jared was not going to play tonight. I had no plans of playing him, but Cliff went down with an injury. I’m not sure what that injury is. I had no choice. I was running out of players to guard Calvin Abueva,” said Black.
“Calvin Abueva is a real problem as far as how you can defend him. And there are only certain types of players who can defend him because he’s so physical. That’s why I used JD tonight. He’s a pretty physical player defensively.”
Thankfully, Dillinger delivered. With him clamping down on the Beast – and with his teammates doing their part as well – the Bolts were able to defeat the Fuel Masters, 90-74, to move just a victory away from the semifinals.
“That was a pretty good game, trying to play, doing whatever I can to help. As soon as Cliff hit the deck, I knew that coach was going to throw me in in the fire,” said the 34-year-old, who played for over seven minutes and had two points.
“Original plan was just to be with the team and kind of get ready for the semis if we make the semis, but tonight we had to just kind of go off the wind, we just kind of have to make it up as we go and I do what I can out there.
“Obviously my legs aren’t there. I’m just so grateful that we won,” he added.
Though the Fil-Am Dillinger finished the game with a turnover and five personal fouls, Black is looking to use him even more this Friday, as the Orangemen look to end the Fuel Masters’ campaign in the season-ending conference.
“Now that I’ve seen he can play, he will play more,” said Black.
“I wasn’t really sure if he could play. I didn’t want to force him in this situation ’cause he hasn’t played the whole conference. but he showed me that he can get out there and give me a few minutes,” added the Grand Slam coach.
“So definitely he’ll show up on Friday.”
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