Standhardinger ready to play in semi-finals

Jul 12, 2018

SAN Miguel Beer may just have its own ace up its sleeve when it tackles dangerous Alaska in their PBA Commissioner's Cup semi-finals showdown.

Beermen officials, led by coach Leo Austria, admitted Christian Standhardinger seems to have recovered enough to start participating in team practices, but remain tight-lipped on exactly when the 6-foot-7 Fil-German would start playing anew.

"He's starting to practice with us and I think in the semis, a long series, palagay ko mapapakinabangan namin siya," said Austria following a 106-102 win over TNT last Wednesday that enabled SMB to complete a two-game sweep of their quarterfinals duel.

"He's a good asset for the team. But he wasn't able to play any scrimmage with the team for this (TNT) series dahil we're after his health. In the long term he will help us a lot."

Standhardinger is just waiting his number to be called, obviously fed up of being a mere spectator to his team's games.

"Whenever they need me I can go," said Standhardinger, maintaining he is 100 percent fit. "I'm feeling all right, I can play."

Austria has repeatedly stressed they don't want to rush Standhardinger back in and would only utilize him anew when the latter's status has been fully ascertained.

Standhardinger understands, but true to his competitive nature still can't wait for that green light. "As long as we're winning like this, yeah, their call," he said.

Standhardinger has actually seen action in only a total five games for the team that made him the No. 1 pick in last year's draft.

Playing close to 10 months non-stop due to his stints with Gilas, ABL and with the national squad in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup has taken its toll on Standhardinger as he suffered fluid buildup on his left knee.

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"If not for his eagerness to represent the country in the 3x3 baka mas napadali sana ang paggaling niya," related SMB team manager Gee Abanilla.

Fluid has been twice extracted from Standhardinger's knee and he has since spent the time strengthening it.

In those five games he saw action in, Standhardinger averaged 12.20 points, 7.20 rebounds and 1.40 assists. He also has a special reason for wanting to play against Alaska in the best-of-five series that start Monday.

He scored a PBA career-high 22 points, on 8-of-11 field shooting, on top of six rebounds against the Aces but his team still lost a 103-105 decision last May 19.

"Whenever I'm needed, I'll play," stressed Standhardinger.(NC)