The big man who at one point was expected to play the hero for a franchise long mired in mediocrity is now joining forces with a group known for its winning tradition to form a superteam.
Christian Standhardinger was chosen No. 1 in the 2017 PBA rookie draft by San Miguel Beer in a ceremony held at Robinson’s Manila on Sunday.
Instead of being seen as a savior and going to Kia, which has rarely seen success since its inclusion in the league in 2014, Standhardinger is now heading to the Beermen, the oldest and most decorated club in league history, no thanks to a much-ballyhooed trade.
“I’m just so grateful that I can play in the PBA, that I can play for San Miguel. Hopefully we can win some championships together. I can’t wait to start,” said Standhardinger, who was joined onstage by San Miguel officials and 4-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.
The catch though is Standhardinger might play out his contract with Hong Kong Eastern in the ASEAN Basketball League, which runs until April, meaning he could be out the entire Philippine Cup and the early part of the Commissioner’s Cup.
That’s the only drawback choosing the Munich-born Filipino player whose draft stock shot up the charts when he played a string of international competitions for Gilas Pilipinas in July and August.
Whenever Standhardinger becomes available to play, that’ll be the day the other teams’ nightmares will begin.
The 6-foot-8 Standhardinger, born to a German father and Filipina mother, will team up with 6-foot-11 Fajardo.
Surrounded by a squad that fell one championship short of winning the Grand Slam in the 2016-17 season, unfair doesn’t even begin to describe the Beermen’s roster.
Standhardinger entered local basketball consciousness when he played for Gilas in the Jones Cup in Taipei in July.
Impressed with his natural physical gifts as an agile big man, fearlessness to bang inside the paint and ability to score, he was picked as Gilas’ naturalized player for the FIBA Asia Cup in August.
His commitment to the national team in such a short span finally paid off when, less than a week after the FIBA Asia Cup, he joined the other, younger Gilas squad that won the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games.
Playing with certified PBA stars and other future league prospects on the national team somehow limited Standhardinger’s opportunities to show his entire repertoire of skills.
In a year-round league setup where talent is spread out, Standhardinger has the potential to stand out.
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