From the sting of last season’s defeat to his “feud” with Joe Devance to winning one for his grandmother, Meralco Bolts forward Jared Dillinger has plenty of reasons to want the 2017 Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup to get started already.
Last year, an injured Dillinger watched helplessly as the Barangay Ginebra Kings beat the Bolts 4-2 to win the 2016 Governors’ Cup, doing so in dramatic fashion with a Justin Brownlee triple in the title-clinching Game 6.
Dillinger had pulled his hamstring in Game 4 of the Bolts’ semifinal series against the TNT KaTropa, and although initially he had hoped to suit up sometime during the best-of-seven finals against the Kings, he just couldn’t go as the injury didn’t heal in time.
The loss stung the Bolts, and they’ve used it as a battlecry all throughout this year’s Governors’ Cup. But it was doubly painful for Dillinger since he wasn’t able to help his team. So for the past year, the versatile forward has been waiting for a chance at revenge.
“I’ve always been dreaming about this,” he said. “No disrespect to the other teams. If you say TNT beat Ginebra and we had to play TNT in the finals, I wouldn’t have been as satisfied if we won. Just the way they beat us and I couldn’t be there to help the team, it was tough. It was really tough on me. It’s so surreal right now, and I can’t wait to get out there and just take it to those guys. That’s all I think about.
“It’s been so long since we got a rematch in the finals and finally it’s here. I’m not sleeping. I woke up at 3:00AM and I’m ready to go. I’m just anxious for this whole thing to start already.”
Been waiting too damn long for this! Let's go! This is what we wanted! Finals rematch ⚡️⚡️
— Jared Dillinger (@JDHawaii20) October 8, 2017
‘I don’t like Joe Devance’
Dillinger has been very vocal on social media about wanting to get back at Ginebra and has even gotten into a little Twitter war with Kings forward Joe Devance.
A day after Barangay Ginebra ousted the TNT KaTropa, 115-105 to advance to the Governors’ Cup Finals and arrange a rematch with the Bolts, Devance also took to Twitter to take a shot at Dillinger.
Hey guys I want to get this clear. As much as I dont like Dillinger its not about me vs him. Its about Ginebra vs Meralco! 2 great teams.
— joe devance (@jdv_38) October 9, 2017
At least Dillinger agrees with him on that point.
“Honestly we want to keep this Meralco versus Ginebra, Coach Black versus Coach Cone, AD (Allen Durham) versus Brownlee,” he said.
“Do I like Joe? No, I don’t. But we try to keep it classy as much as we can. I’m sure he’s gonna hit me a couple of times in the game. I’m gonna hit him back, so you all better believe it’s gonna be a war.”
The two players chatted after Tuesday’s press conference for the Finals, which starts on Friday in Lucena.
“I know it’s all fun and games now, we’re laughing. In the heat of the moment, in the game, money’s on the line, legacy’s on the line, championship’s on the line, it’s gonna be bad. There’s gonna be a lot of blood out there, I promise you. This is gonna be a great series.”
Win one for Mamang
Aside from redemption, another source of inspiration for Dillinger in this title series is his maternal grandmother, who is gravely ill back in California.
“At the beginning of the conference, I got word that my grandma is not gonna live much longer,” Dillinger shared. “Mentally I was struggling. We were talking everyday. She didn’t want me to fly there. She wanted me to focus on this season. She promised me that as long as she has a single breath in her body she’s gonna make sure to watch me in the finals. That’s what’s really keeping me going, and that’s where my inspiration is coming from.”
Dillinger would like nothing more than to win it all for his grandma, whom he affectionately refers to as Mamang Teresa.
“It’s really all for her because she’s fighting for her dear life. Just to hear my voice and just to hear how I did and how I played. I wish we could start tomorrow so she can see it. I don’t want her to miss anything. God forbid that she passes away at any time. I just want her to at least see one game. It’s emotional but it’s all for her.
“I’m gonna try and give her something special before it all ends.”