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Standhardinger working doubly hard for Gilas 5

by Jonas Terrado

The last practice of Gilas Pilipinas before heading to Lebanon for the FIBA Asia Cup on Saturday afternoon was already over, but Christian Standhardinger decided to stay on the court of the Moro Lorenzo gym for a few more minutes to hone his shooting skills with help from Cadet member Ponso Gotladera.

Standhardinger did need the extra work. Not only will he fill the role of naturalized player vacated by former NBA veteran Andray Blatche, his presence became even more important with the likelihood of June Mar Fajardo’s absence for the duration of the tournament due to a strained right calf.

Christian Standhardinger (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Christian Standhardinger (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

“June Mar is an amazing player and it hurts the team that he is not here, obviously,” Standhardinger said. “I think that we need to come together as a team now. It’s going to be a tough challenge but at the end of the day, there’s a lot of pressure.

“Andray is not playing, June Mar is not playing, we did not have as much practices as we wanted to because of the PBA schedule, but we just have to go out there and play our best,” added the 28-year-old, who is ineligible as a homegrown for failing to secure a Philippine passport before turning 16.

He will play in the biggest tournament of his career where the 6-foot-8 will be up against some of Asia’s best cagers.

Standhardinger will get an immediate test on Wednesday against China, a team composed of two 7-footers and a pair of 6-foot-11 players.

Asked of the challenge facing the tall Chinese cagers, Standhardinger, who got his feet wet with Gilas several weeks ago in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan, is even embracing the challenge.

“Actually, I like to play against taller players. I might have the disadvantage in height because usually I don’t play five (center position), but in the Philippines I am the five to help the team,” Standhardinger mentioned. “I’ll take on the challenge. I hope that they will not like playing against me.”

Also expected to do more in the middle are 6-foot-8 Raymond Almazan, in his first FIBA Asia, and 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar, competing in his fourth Asian Championship.

“Sobrang laking challenge ito sa akin kasi madadagdagan playing time ko kasi wala si June Mar,” Almazan said. “At the same time, malungkot pero nangyayari talaga yung mga ganyan, hindi natin inaasahan yang mga ganyan maski na last-minute.