Long hours in gym pay off as Mike DiGregorio seizes rare opportunity at Blackwater
Mike DiGregorio set a new career-high with 22 points against NLEX. Jerome Ascano

MIKE DiGregorio did his best Isaiah Thomas impersonation on Wednesday as he proved to be a big factor in Blackwater's 104-98 win over NLEX in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

On the same day the Boston Celtics star fired 53 points in Game Two of the NBA's Eastern Conference semifinals against Washington in honor of his late sister's birthday, DiGreogrio dropped a new career-high 22 points while drawing motivation from two occasions.

First was the death anniversary of his grandmother on the same day the Fil-Italian cager found out that the dad of the wife of his cousin passed away followin heart surgery.

"So I wanna dedicate this game to them, DiGregorio said. "I'm thinking of them, I love them."

"(I played with) a heavy heart, for sure," he added. "I know how much their lives meant to our family. It's definitely tough for them, so I want to dedicate this game to them."

[See Greg Smith monster game helps Blackwater keep NLEX winless]

DiGregorio did most of his damage in the third quarter where he knocked down all his four triples for the Elite to build a cushion big enough to weather a late NLEX rally.

"Like I said, I'm confident in my abililty because of how hard I work," DiGregorio said as he completed his effort with four assists and three boards. "I've been working so hard for so long, a lot of hours before and after practice, so that's where the confidence comes from - preparation. I was prepared for this opportunity, and I took advantage of it."

DiGregorio tries to sustain his sizzling form on Sunday when he faces Mahindra, the team that dropped him to the free-agent market in the offseason.

"Personally, I'm excited to play against them. But no hard feelings," DiGregorio insisted. "Like I told you before, they gave me the opportunity to play in this league. I'm very, very grateful to Mahindra, but I'm excited for Sunday."

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos