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New challenge for Fil-German cager

Christian Standhardinger was expected to arrive in Kuala Lumpur yesterday to begin a new challenge of helping Gilas Pilipinas retain the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games.

Barring last minute hitches at presstime, the 6-foot-8 Fil-German will be available in Gilas’ opening match against Thailand tonight at the MABA Stadium in the Malaysian capital after enduring a whirlwind trip from Beirut, Lebanon where he represented the country in the FIBA Asia Cup.

Gilas’ quarterfinal loss to South Korea Wednesday allowed Standhardinger to leave the Lebanese capital and join the young national cagers in their quest to win a 12th straight gold in the biennial meet.

Gilas was playing host Lebanon at presstime in the first game of the FIBA Asia classification round for fifth to eighth places. Coach Chot Reyes and company look to win their final two games and salvage a respectable finish despite Standhardinger’s absence.

Standhardinger arrived in Manila Friday before boarding a four-hour flight bound for Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The 28-year-old is coming off an impressive stint in the FIBA Asia, averaging 16.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in four games, missing the last Group B match against Qatar due to a pain around his neck and shoulder.

The Gilas SEA Games squad can only hope that Standhardinger would bring his strong showing from Beirut in Kuala Lumpur, with rival teams like Thailand, Indonesia and host Malaysia expected to give them a run for their money.