RJ Hampton has vowed to keep standing up for himself despite being ejected in the New Zealand Breakers' third successive NBL defeat.
The American NBA draft prospect took exception to some close checking from South East Melbourne guard Ben Madgen in the early stages of Saturday's 103-78 loss to the Phoenix at Melbourne Arena.
The pair exchanged words as Magden wound up on the floor after being fouled, while Hampton also clashed with John Roberson as the incident escalated.
The 18-year-old point guard picked up a technical foul and an unsportsmanlike foul for his part in the melee, seeing him disqualified from the match with barely four minutes ticked off the clock.
Without Hampton and injured backup guard Jarrad Weeks, the Breakers eventually lost their way as the Phoenix dominated the second half 61-30 to cruise to victory.
"Madgen, I think he kinda gave me a little shoulder in my back on a screen," Hampton said following the loss.
"I thought it was kinda dirty so I came back, gave him a little shove, you can call it a flop if you want to or not, but he fell.
"John Roberson came, he pushed me, kinda gave it the same thing Madgen did and then I think he said something to me that I didn't like, so I went for him and that was the end of that."
While disappointed to leave the Breakers short at the guard position, Hampton indicated he would continue to stay aggressive in the face of close attention from the opposition.
"I regret it for my team because I let my team down, I should have been in the game. But as far as the way I handled myself, I'm not going to let nobody disrespect me," he said.
"I know that the game is physical, I've played against physical people. Andrew Bogut is physical. Casper Ware is physical.
"But I think there is a difference between being physical and being dirty."
But Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell rejected any notion of dirty play from his squad after hearing Hampton's post-match comments.
"Nah, he needs to be better than that - it wasn't dirty," Mitchell said.
"It's a tough person's game ... he's got to get better at handling that. If that's the way he's going to react, then he's going to see a lot more of it.
"He will be better for the experience I think but there was nothing in it, nothing untoward."
Mitchell praised Jaye Crockett and 100-gamer Kyle Adnam for their contributions off the bench for the expansion franchise while Dane Pineau continued his fine form by making 8-of-10 shots on his way to a career-high 18.
Australian Associated Press