It was heart-shattering when Gilas Pilipinas lost steam at a crucial junction and bowed to an Iran side with little to no help from star big man Hamed Haddadi in their 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers meeting, Thursday night.
The Philippines even managed to post leads many times in the game, but the Middle Eastern powerhouse’s wits were simply too much to handle, especially down the stretch, as they used a 14-5 finishing rally to fend off the visiting team.
But it’s not all pitch black for Gilas.
The Nationals put up an admirable and gallant stand, considering that the team was built in less than two weeks. And this is a team way different from the ones that competed in the Qualifiers’ first three windows.
As has been told many times, Gilas had to gather other talents, as FIBA slapped the majority of the original squad’s players with suspensions, no thanks to the infamous Gilas-Australia brawl last July in Bulacan.
But of all the positives that can be extracted in the defeat to the Iranians, it is the way Christian Standhardinger played that stood out the most.
Versus Iran, Standhardinger was Gilas’ chosen naturalized player over fellow Fil-foreigner Stanley Pringle. And come game day, the Filipino-German forward from the San Miguel Beermen played like an import.
The 6-foot-8 Standhardinger took the Philippines’ scoring load, scoring 30 points on an excellent 10-of-14 shooting from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line. He also had 12 rebounds, two assists, and two steals in his name.
In comparison, Naturalized big man Andray Blatche’s high in the Qualifiers was just 18 points and 16 rebounds during Gilas’ home game against Japan.
The 29-year-old hasn’t missed a beat since the 2018 Asian Games, which ended about 11 days ago. In the continental meet hosted by Indonesia, Standhardinger was vital cog with norms of 20.6 points and 10.2 rebounds.
However, his status for Gilas’ home game against Qatar on September 17 is in limbo, as Nationals head coach Yeng Guiao had mentioned before that Standhardinger and Pringle will take turns as the team’s naturalized player.
But the only thing certain is that Standhardinger is truly a valuable asset to the Gilas program. And he showed that yet again on Thursday evening.
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