Double duty: Standhardinger takes place of Blatche as Gilas reinforcement
From being a veritable unknown to Filipino basketball fans, Christian Standhardinger will be the one common denominator of two Gilas teams playing in prestigious regional events next month.
After Andray Blatche decided not to go with the team to the Fiba Asia Championship in Lebanon, Gilas coach Chot Reyes was left with no choice but to put Standhardinger’s name in the roster as the Filipinos’ naturalized player.
That would mean that the 6-foot-8 Standhardinger will, after the Aug. 8 to 20 showcase in Beirut, fly straight to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to anchor another Gilas Five that will try to win the Philippines’ 19th cage gold in the Southeast Asian Games.
“Yes, Chris will double,” Reyes told the Inquirer through a text message as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas decided not to replace Standhardinger in the SEA Games lineup, which was finalized weeks before the hardworking center debuted for Team Philippines internationally in the Jones Cup in Taipei.
Meanwhile, Blatche apologized to his “Filipino family” on Wednesday morning, but still didn’t point out the exact reason why he opted not to join the team.
Through his Instagram account @draylive, the 6-foot-11 NBA veteran said: “I will always be very thankful for the opportunity the love and the support I have received from my Filipino family but it’s a lot of reason why I can’t join and I don’t expect for many ppl to understand but I do wish my brothers the best of luck.”
The Inquirer first reported on Monday afternoon that Blatche refused to get on board because the 6-foot-11 former Brooklyn Net and Washington Wizard in the NBA feared for his safety in Beirut.
In a related development, Reyes will call for full practices starting Thursday with the likes of reigning three-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, Jason Castro of TNT KaTropa, Calvin Abueva of Alaska and Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort leading the squad that is tasked to win the championship for the first time since 1973.