Christian Standhardinger hopes that his presence will be of help for Gilas Pilipinas when they lock horns with powerhouse Iran anew in the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Monday.
Standhardinger was the Filipino dribblers’ naturalized player when they battled Team Melli back in the fourth window of the Qualifiers last September in Tehran. He had 30 points and 12 rebounds in their 73-81 loss.
“Obviously, you guys know that my game is everything but perfect.
“You know I’m a little unconventional. But I do think that with my speed on the court, I hope I can help the team a little bit on Monday,” said the Fil-German forward.
Gilas will need all the help it can get on Monday, as their clash with the Iranians at the Mall of Asia Arena is a crucial one.
The Nationals are in a must-win situation after suffering a heartbreaking 88-92 loss to Kazakhstan on Friday night in front of nearly 20,000 people also at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Philippines’ win-loss record is now 5-4.
The Filipinos are now tied with the surging Japan, who have earned a rousing 85-47 victory over Qatar at the Toyama City Gymnasium, also Friday.
For Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao, Standhardinger’s presence on Monday will definitely boost their frontline’s activity, which the decorated bench strategist felt was lacking when they battled the Kazakhs.
Kazakhstan were led by Alexandr Zhigulin with 30 points and seven board. The 6-foot-8 forward-center was just averaging above six points prior to facing Gilas, who dealt them a 37-point beatdown in the 2018 Asian Games.
“We will lose Stan’s (Pringle) scoring, his aggressiveness, and his leadership at the point guard position. But we will gain Christian’s quickness and his active play, which we lacked today with our bigs,” Guiao said.
“It’s all about giving your best for the country and hope that yeah, we can get the victory on Monday.”
Since Gilas lost to the Kazakhs, all eyes are now on the team’s naturalized players to see if they can fill in for Andray Blatche, the program’s naturalized center since the Philippines made it into the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
The 6-foot-11 Blatche has been vocal about his disappointment over not being included in the pool for the fifth window, even if his three-game suspension from that brawl with Australia last July has already been served.
Standhardinger admitted there’s pressure in being a naturalized player, and not in raking up the numbers – but to deliver for the whole country, especially now that the Philippines’ World Cup aspirations are on the line.
“Basketball is much, much more complex than that (stats). It’s like, I don’t have to score more than ten points to be really of help for our team,” said Standhardinger, who began his journey with Gilas back in the 2017 Jones Cup.
“Like you’ve seen in the Asian Games, where we played against this team – I don’t know how much points I scored, but you can affect basketball in so many different ways that you’re not seeing in the stat sheet. So I don’t feel pressure to produce stats because if I don’t produce stats it’s okay,” shared Standhardinger, 20.6 points and 10.2 rebounds during the Asiad. “Like, I’m confident enough or I have self-esteem to let media or fans like you know, get all the hate out, which is okay because that’s our job.
“But I do feel pressure playing for the country. I do feel pressure giving my all. I only feel the pressure, I wanna go out there and no matter how many points, rebounds I scored, I know like my whole body is sore because I was hitting the deck three times and playing defense and running upwards, going back to the defensive rebound, running back in transition – that’s why I feel pressure,” he added.
“I feel pressure to play my heart out and to play my best for the country. I don’t feel pressure to match anybody. Yeah, that’s not how I feel the pressure.”
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