MANILA, Philippines – Norman Black admitted he and Meralco were left disappointed after learning longtime player Jared Dillinger signed with Barangay Ginebra in the middle of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Dillinger was picked up by the Gin Kings after the Bolts relegated him to the unrestricted free agent list as he continues to recuperate from a quad injury. (READ: Ginebra coach Cone bares he's pursued Dillinger for 'many years')
Black, however, said Dillinger and Meralco had a "gentleman's agreement" that he will remain with the team and will be immediately slotted back into the lineup once he fully recovers.
"[W]e had a gentleman's agreement with him that okay, can we just put you into the unrestricted free agent list and as soon as you're ready to play, we'll just place you back in the lineup again."
"Because you're not going to be able to be out there on the court, let some of the other guys contribute to the team," Black said after a 91-84 win over Rain or Shine on Friday, May 31.
"Anyway, as soon as you're ready, you're one of the main players, you'll be right back in the mix again."
What made matters worse was that Dillinger did not inform Meralco – a team that he had been with since 2013 – that he would sign with Ginebra, Black said.
"I was a little bit shocked when I heard that he has signed with Ginebra. But it's his prerogative. I mean he's an unrestricted free agent, so he can basically do whatever he wants to do."
"It's just on our point of view and the fact that we talked to him and he didn't actually talk to us before he signed with Ginebra – that's where the disappointment comes in. But like I said, it's his choice."
"And at the same time, I want to thank him for his service to Meralco. And wish him the best of luck in his new team."
While the Bolts lost a key piece in Dillinger, Black said his departure opens up to the emergence of the likes of Bong Quinto and Nico Salva in the guard and forward positions.
"[G]uys get older. They move on. And new guys come in and they develop."
Meralco currently carries a 2-2 record and faces Phoenix next at Araneta Coliseum on Friday, June 7. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.