PBA semifinals: Is Christian Standhardinger set to return?

DNP no more?

Missing in action since a week before the FIBA 3×3 World Cup, Christian Standhardinger may finally suit up for the San Miguel Beermen in time for the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals. Facing the second-seeded Alaska Aces, the Beermen are expected to parade a full lineup in their continuing quest to defend the midseason title.

Standhardinger, the top overall pick of the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft, has been in hiatus since the first week of June due to a knee inury. The Fil-German center last saw action against the Phoenix Fuelmasters on May 30, where he contributed 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench. But from their June 3 clash against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings up until their quarterfinal series against TNT KaTropa, the sixth-seed Beermen had to soldier on without their prized recruit.

According to San Miguel coach Leo Austria, Standhardinger is due for action on the hardcourt after more than a month in the freezer.

“Christian is expected to play, pero it will depend on the progression of the game. He is slowly getting to his 100%. I think it’s a matter of time for him to be included in our regular rotation,” said the six-time PBA champion coach in an interview with FOX Sports Philippines.

Together with Stanley Pringle, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy, Standhardinger represented the Philippines in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue from June 8 to 12. Standhardinger was given a two-game reprieve by the Beermen management prior to the international tournament to recharge and recuperate from a nagging knee injury.

Austria said that the coaching staff prioritized Standhardinger’s well-being before and after the World Cup.

“The reason we did not allow him to play two games before the FIBA 3×3 World Cup is for him to recover from his injuries. Alam naman natin na he will serve the flag. Ang dala nya sa 3×3 ay Pilipinas at hindi San Miguel. Unfortunately, na-aggravate at hindi pa rin sya naging 100%. Talagang all-out sila dun sa 3×3. Buti na lang during his absence, nananalo kami and we were able to catch up and we ended up as the sixth seed,” the head coach said.

“I am expecting na makakabalik sya sa dati nyang laro. We are after his health and we don’t want to prolong his injuries. We know that he’s really an asset.”

The 6-foot-8 slotman out of Munich, Germany is expected to bolster the San Miguel frontline against an Alaska side bannered by the highly-improved Vic Manuel, who leads all local scorers with 24.2 points per game this conference. Free of injuries, Manuel has been a consistent contributor in the scoring and rebounding department for the Alex Compton-mentored squad. With his impressive showing, the “Muscle Man” rose to become one of the contenders for the Best Player of the Conference award.

Just like most league observers, Austria is in awe of Manuel’s career progression with Alaska. He and the rest of the Beermen of wary of what the slotman brings to the table for the Wilfred Uytengsu-owned franchise.

“The reason why they are in the Top 2, one factor is Vic Manuel. Malaki yung impact na binibigay nya kasi reliable sya sa shaded area. Siya yung nagiging go-to-guy nila ngayon. Before hindi sya consistent because of injuries. Now, nakikita natin na he is emerging as one of the top players of the league,” Austria mused.

The Alaska-San Miguel Best-of-Five semifinals clash begins tonight at 7 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

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