MANILA, Philippines — Jared Dillinger ended up with a bloodied nose after a heated incident between him and Calvin Abueva, but he just chalked it up as just “part of the game.”
With both Meralco and Alaska trying to barge into the top six, Dillinger knew that emotions were high as both sides fought relentlessly to boost their campaign.
“We all know the importance of this game for these two teams. Either one’s gonna be sixth place or ninth place so it was really like a playoffs,” Dillinger told INQUIRER.net.
“And it wasn’t just me and Calvin hitting each other, everyone was diving for loose balls.”
Dillinger and Abueva nearly came to blows just a minute into the payoff period during Meralco’s 74-65 win Friday when the Bolts’ defensive stalwart took a hand to the face from Abueva, who came at him in full force.
As both players slammed to the railings, Abueva extended his hand anew on Dillinger’s face, to which the Meralco swingman reacted by putting his hands around Abueva’s neck.
But the incident, which happened with Meralco up by 13, didn’t escalate further as both players were immediately pacified.
“The momentum of us was carried over the railing; we’re both trying to hold each other because we’re on top of the fans. It was intense and a lot of emotions were flying,” Dillinger described.
“Sometimes when you get caught up in the moment and get hit, it’s human nature. You’re gonna react. That being said, it’s a part of the game. Stuff like that happens. It’s normal.”
Dillinger also came out with a bruise under his left eye, but he cleared that what really got his goat was the extra motions after they had crashed.
“I wasn’t mad that we went crashing to the railing, it was that little hits [he did] afterwards,” he said.
But even so, Dillinger said that he has “no hard feelings” towards Abueva.
“He’s intense. He plays with a lot of emotions. He’s a hardwoker. I take nothing away from that,” he shared.
“Like I said, just two guys going after the ball. We both knew the importance of this game. I’ve been here, I’ve been down this road a couple of times before, I’ve been in the playoffs and finals. It was just a very intense game.”