MIKE Digregorio insisted he’s not a dirty player as he protested the flagrant foul penalty 2 slapped on him early in Blackwater’s PBA Governors Cup game against Phoenix on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The soft-spoken Fil-Am guard said there was no intention on his part to hurt Eugene Phelps when he tossed the ball in the Phoenix import's direction during a dead ball situation midway through the second quarter.
The infraction led to Digregorio’s ejection in a 97-91 loss to the Fuel Masters that relegated the Elite to the No. 5 seed team and a twice-to-beat disadvantage against Magnolia in the playoffs.
He finished with seven points in 10 minutes of play.
“For me, an F2 is intention to hurt somebody. And I didn’t have a malicious intent to hurt anybody. I just tossed the ball,” said Digregorio of his act that came after Phelps was clobbered underneath by a Blackwater double-team led by big man Poy Erram.
“I never had a history of being a cheap player or a dirty player. I’ve never been ejected. I’m not known as a dirty player. So to be tossed out for tossing the ball, I guess that’s the breaks of the game.”
Under league rule however, throwing the ball at an opponent will be punished by an automatic ejection.
“If I had thrown in at him, I would have had an intent and looked at him and threw it. I’m walking by, the ball bounces to me, and I just tossed it,” said Digregorio.
What made it more disappointing for Digregorio was watching his teammates helplessly from inside the dugout.
“It’s a helpless feeling inside the dugout seeing your teammates and knowing that I could be out there helping them,” he admitted. It’s a hard pill to swallow.”
Digregorio however, vowed to bounce back in the playoffs, which starts this week.
“I’m ready to go come the playoffs,” he said. “Believe that. I’m fired up because we lost by four or five, and I could have helped the team.”
And he promised not to do it again.
“I guarantee you this, it’s not going to happen again,” said Digregorio. “If a ball bounces to me, I’m not touching it.”