No bubble-living trouble for Standhardinger, but can he take NorthPort deep?
Christian Standhardinger, the NorthPort workhorse, said there are a lot of things to adjust to inside the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) bubble.
And missing the comforts of one’s home and family easily tops that list.
“I’ll tell you straightforward, it’s different when you lose a game [during normal times]. You go home and you have your girlfriend or family there saying ‘here’s food, let’s eat together’ and stuff like that,” the former Gilas Pilipinas standout said. “It’s a bit easier to cope with the taste of defeat if you have that setup.”
The Batang Pier’s do-it-all forward, however, is not bothered by that.
Living in various cities overseas, playing in Hawaii in college, primed him for the emotional tax that comes with competing inside the PBA’s contained environment. where there’s strictly no family allowed.
“I’m used to being alone,” Standhardinger said as he showed being at ease in these conditions by averaging 25.5 points, grabbing 10.5 rebounds and issuing 5.5 assists in the first two losses of the Batang Pier, numbers that certainly speak well for what many experts believe is the best big man in the bubble in the absence of six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer.
What concerns the many-time Gilas Pilipinas member and the two-time PBA champion is getting back to competition shape after a long layoff.
“The adjustment for me is to just … [getting] the rust off. That’s the adjustment I had to make, not the changes in [living] location,” the Filipino-German bruiser said.
“It’s more of how to figure out the fastest possible way to get back to the conference semifinals level of Christian after six months, which is hard,” he said, alluding to his fine form when he led NorthPort past the top-ranked NLEX in the biggest playoff upset of last season’s Governors’ Cup.
And that should also spell the difference in this whirlwind tournament.
“In this [conference], the key is making the fastest adjustments to getting back to your optimal [playing form],” Standhardinger said.
Standhardinger, though, did play a bad game for the first time here and it didn’t help NorthPort, which reeled to a third straight defeat on Sunday night courtesy of Rain or Shine at Angeles University Foundation powered by Smart 5G.
And definitely, no matter how well someone could adjust, taking three straight losses flush on the chin is going to take its toll someway, somehow.
The 6-foot-7 Standhardinger was limited to just six points in the first three periods of a 70-68 loss to the Elasto Painters, a great dip in his performance.
Although he made his most difficult shot that night—the last that he took—an off-balanced jumper off two defenders that knotted the score at 68 with 3.3 seconds left, playing catchup the whole of the second half took its toll on the Batang Pier.
Still, the jury is out on Standhardinger and the Batang Pier, who have come into this setting armed to the teeth. And with so much expectations, it would be particularly interesting to find out how Standhardinger copes with that. INQ