It’s pretty simple for Christian Standhardinger.
Step up in lieu of Japeth Aguilar.
But the Ginebra workhorse has been doing it so well that he’s now emerged as the frontrunner for the coveted 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award by the conclusion of the elimination round.
“It’s like a combination of two things, right — Japeth went out, and I just knew that I had to step it up,” said the 33-year-old, who’s leading the race with 42.8 statistical points.
“Obviously, as a team, we had to step it up to compensate.”
Standhardinger has undeniably taken full advantage of Aguilar’s absence due to an MCL injury. Prior to the playoffs, he’s averaging 22.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists to help the reigning champs grab the no. 3 seed (8-3).
Now, he’s on pace to win his second BPC title since the 2019 edition of the same conference, and to become just the first player to win the said plum with two different teams since Calvin Abueva (Alaska and Magnolia).
He further strengthened his case on Sunday night, dropping 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting alongside eight rebounds and two assists to help the Kings eliminate NLEX, 127-93, to complete half of the semifinal cast.
“Japeth is a national player — we don’t have to talk about how great Japeth is so I just try to elevate my game and try to compensate a little bit for him in the areas that I can compensate for which is not shot-blocking,” he quipped.
“I couldn’t compensate for his athletic ability but I try to do everything else. And then obviously I got a little bit more minutes because now our rotation is short. It looks great,” the 6-foot-8 bruiser furthered.
But ever humble, he isn’t taking all the credit to himself.
“Obviously, I have great teammates,” he said.
“You know, even today, did you see Scottie? Scottie dribbled and beat his man, and he beat another man, then he jumped—then two people jumped with him—and then he gave me the ball and I had to literally just lay it up.
“I told him that’s 95-percent of the work so I have great teammates that put me in such a great [position] — It’s very easy and nice to play with them,” added the former Gilas stalwart, who’s been with the Barangay since 2021.
And just like what he’s said in the past, championships mean more than anything else to him, something that he’s eyeing once more now that the Kings are bound for the semis, where they’ll be up against San Miguel Beer.
“But at the end of the day, I’m just happy we’re in the playoffs. You guys know me, it’s all about championships. I truly want to win the championship and now it’s where it’s focused down,” said the winner of four titles.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.