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Diego Dario cracks Meralco lineup, signs one conference deal


Work hard to achieve your goals. That is what Diego Dario did despite being just a practice player for Meralco.

And it has now resulted in the 5-foot-7 guard out of University of the Philipines finally making the Bolts lineup, signing a one conference deal on Tuesday.

Thankful is Dario, who had been a practice player for the Bolts since February of 2022, for the opportunity given to him by Meralco.

“I’m very blessed and very grateful to the coaching staff, the team management — especially sila Boss Pao [Trillo], and also the players,” Dario told Tiebreaker Times. “They’ve been very supportive of me since Day 1. They welcomed me even if I was just a practice player.

“They were encouraging me all the time and giving me confidence.”

Dario, the 24th overall pick in the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft, played two seasons with Blackwater.

In 17 games played with the then-Elite, he averaged 2.35 points and 1.47 assists per contest.

He was released by Blackwater back in June of 2021. But that did not stop Dario from playing the game.

He played for Primus 7A in Filbasket, Nueva Ecija in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, and Davao Occidental-Cocolife in the Pilipinas Super League.Chooks-MPBL-Nueva-Ecija-Diego-Dario-scaled Diego Dario cracks Meralco lineup, signs one conference deal Basketball News PBA  - philippine sports news

“During that time, I knew I still had in me. I worked hard during the pandemic. As long as there were offers, I was taking it,” he recalled.

“If there was an opportunity, I was there.”

Then came the call from Meralco last year.

“When I got the call up to be a practice player, I said yes. It’s still the PBA and Meralco is one of the best teams in the country. Even if I was a practice player, I still get to learn from Coach (Norman) Black and Coach (Nenad) Vucinic — yun pa lang were enough for me na,” continued Dario, who was also an analyst with Cignal’s PBA coverage during his time away from the big league.

“My mindset was just grind and get better and improve on the craft.”

Now back in the league, Dario said that his mindset has changed. He won’t be satisfied with just making it to the lineup.

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What he wants is to stay in the league for a long time.

“Super excited but this time around, I’m not a rookie anymore — I’ve already played in the PBA,” the 26-year-old guard said, who will replace the injured Anjo Caram in the active roster.

“Iba na yung mindset which is now I’m a pro and I get paid to run their system, to be a good teammate, and to be part of the team’s winning culture.”

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

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