Mike DiGregorio was a picture of frustration following his ejection from the Blackwater Elite’s match versus the Phoenix Fuel Masters for the last twice-to-beat playoff edge for the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup quarters, Sunday.
The 6-foot-1 sharpshooter was thrown out with 6:07 remaining in the second quarter thanks to a flagrant foul penalty two, which he was slapped with after “throwing” the ball at Fuel Masters import Eugene Phelps.
That incident happened just moments after Poy Erram fouled Phelps hard inside the paint, when the latter was about to attempt a shot. The 6-foot-7 slotman was then slapped with a flagrant foul penalty one.
“I’m very disappointed with the decision they made. I wanted to see the replay. From what I recall, it was a hard foul by Poy, I saw Eugene get physical with Poy, hit him in the face, he fell down, the ball bounced to me and I just tossed it.
“And I kept saying when I was watching the game in the dugout, never did I wind up or throw the ball at him. I just tossed the ball and that’s an F2,” he said.
What makes it so unacceptable for DiGregorio is the degree of the call – he even compared it to the headlock incident between Kevin Murphy and Calvin Abueva last October 12, where the former was assessed with an F1.
“But in the San Miguel game against Phoenix, Murphy has Abueva in a headlock and that’s an F1, but mine is an F2,” he said.
“I’ve never had a history of being a dirty player, I’ve never had a history of getting thrown out or being cheap or physical with anybody.”
The league explained their side, saying that whenever a ball is being thrown towards a player – whether intentional or not – it will automatically merit a flagrant foul penalty two as it could start untoward incidents.
“Yun ang napag-usapan ng board at ng technical committee,” said commissioner Willie Marcial.
Still, it won’t change the disappointment of the usually cool DiGregorio. Add to that the fact that his absence was a big blow to his team, as the Elite bowed to Calvin Abueva and the Fuel Masters narrowly, 91-97.
“It’s a helpless feeling watching in the dugout seeing your teammates and knowing that I could be out there helping them. It’s a hard pill to swallow because I honestly was feeling it early,” said the 26-year-old, who left with seven points.
But instead of sulking, DiGregorio said that this unfortunate event has only fired him up for the quarterfinals, where they will be entering as the five-seed and will face the fourth-ranked, twice-to-beat Magnolia Hotshots.
“Im’ma be ready to go. Whether it’s Tuesday or Thursday, Imma be ready to go. I guarantee you this: It’s not gonna happen again. If the ball bounces to me I’m not touching it,” quipped the Fil-Italian. “I’mma be ready to go come playoffs.
“Believe that. Im’ma be ready to go. I’m fired up.”
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