CHRISTIAN Standhardinger makes his Barangay Ginebra debut as the Kings open their title defense of the PBA Philippine Cup Sunday.
The mettle of the 6-foot-8 Fil-German in a Ginebra uniform will be tested right away as the team battles NLEX Road Warriors in the second game of a triple header at Ynares Sports Arena.
Acquired from NorthPort in exchange for fellow big man Greg Slaughter, Standhardinger returned and practiced anew with the Kings the past two weeks after resting an old, previous injury.
But coach Tim Cone assured the 2019 Governors Cup Best Player of the Game would be ready against NLEX in the 4:35 p.m. encounter.
"Yes, he's ready," said the Ginebra mentor of the team's biggest acquisition during the off-season.
Standhardinger is definitely an added upside to an already cohesive Kings' side that scurried its way to the championship of the historic Philippine Cup bubble last year by beating TnT Tropang Giga in the finals, 4-1.
Up against the reigning champions, the Road Warriors meanwhile, try to set aside the sorry loss they suffered at the hands of Rain or Shine on opening day, 83-82.
NLEX battled its way back from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to make it a close finish against the Elasto Painters down the stretch.
The Road Warriors actually even had a shot at winning the game, but Anthony Semerad's potential game-winner was contested by the Elasto Painters, who clinched the victory by skin of their teeth.
Despite the heartbreaker, star guard Kiefer Ravena, who led NLEX with 23 points, remains positive about the campaign of his team this conference.
"That was just breaks of the game. But definitely, I would say that we will take the small victories. We definitely performed a lot better than our first game in the bubble," he said. (RG)