Coach Chot Reyes made some heads turn with some of the recent call-ups he made for Gilas Pilipinas, and perhaps the most intriguing prospect was the one who was unfamiliar to a lot of people — Christian Hermoso Standhardinger.
Unless you’ve been in the know for the past few years or you’ve scoured the various online forums on Philippine basketball, you’ve probably barely heard anything about Standhardinger. He is, however, a potential game-changer not just for Gilas Pilipinas but also for any PBA team for whom he’ll play.
Standhardinger — a 6’8 Filipino-German — has actually been in the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’s radar since way back in the early days of the Gilas program. He was one of Germany’s top youth players in the mid-2000s, even earning a spot in Germany’s U18 team in 2007, and he has had extensive experience playing high level basketball after seeing action for both the University of Nebraska and University of Hawaii in the US NCAA.
For quite some time, people from the SBP and agents from several Philippine teams have reached out and tried to have Standhardinger finally play here in Manila, but always to no avail. Now that the Munich-born big man is about to turn 28, though, he will be eligible for the PBA Draft, and after reportedly securing a release from the Deutscher Basketball Bund, it seems the path is clear for him to play for Gilas Pilipinas (although as a naturalized player and NOT as a local).
So what can he contribute to the national team?
The most obvious, of course, is size. He is the tallest call-up on coach Chot’s list, and he is no stranger to banging bodies in the paint for rebounds and rim protection. Think of Iran’s Arsalan Kazemi or Greece’s Georgios Printezis. They represent the mold from which Standhardinger seems to be carved, and if he can even just approximate the production of those two individuals, then he’d be a rock-solid addition to the Gilas pool.
Let’s take a look at some numbers.
German U18 Team 2007: 8.0ppg, 2.0rpg, 39.2 FG% in 16.4mpg
– His best game was putting up 15 points and 5 rebounds in a win over Russia, 83-77.
University of Nebraska: 8.5ppg, 4.2rpg, 42.5 FG%
University of Hawaii: 16.9ppg, 8.1rpg, 1.4spg, 49.2 FG%
– After two forgettable seasons playing for the Cornhuskers, Standhardinger found his niche with the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii. Perhaps his finest moment was being named to the Big West All-Conference First Team together with Tall Black center Isaac Fotu in 2014.
2016-2017 Bundesliga (SC Rast Vechta): 8.6ppg, 5.1rpg, 49.3 FG%
– After finishing his stint with Hawaii, Standhardinger returned to Germany to play for Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels and then made the move to his current club, SC Rasta Vechta, in 2015.
Before going to the US in 2009, Standhardinger had a reputation for being a versatile big man who could shoot from the outside and had a quick first step. He was also rated as an above average rebounder and a solid defender. He had trouble adjusting in his two years at Nebraska, though, getting suspended and ticketed before moving to Hawaii, where he finally flourished.
He is nowhere near a superstar in the Bundesliga for Rasta Vechta, which constantly hovers just above relegation to the second tier league, but someone with his size, skill-set, and experience should offer some valuable assets to any Philippine team willing to take a gamble. At nearly 28, he is entering his physical prime, and should he display more maturity compared to his younger years, there is no reason why he should not have a fruitful and reasonably lengthy career not just with Gilas but in the PBA as well.
Given the absence of Russel Escoto and Arnold Van Opstal in the list coach Chot released, it stands to reason that Standhardinger, should he heed the call, will be the Gilas Cadets’ top choice in the middle. His natural position is power forward, but given how the Cadets are lacking in size, he will be the obvious choice. Also, if the SBP cannot secure the commitment of Andray Blatche for both the FIBA Asia Cup and the FIBA Basketball World Cup Asia Qualifiers, we should not be surprised if we’ll see a lot of Standhardinger this year.
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