Christian Standhardinger retires from Gilas Pilipinas
MANILA, Philippines—Christian Standhardinger, the high-IQ and high-motor Ginebra star who broke into the Philippine basketball lore by playing for the national team, has retired from Gilas Pilipinas duty.
The Filipino-German forward made the announcement in a lengthy Instagram post on Saturday afternoon, just days removed from winning his third gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
“The finals game marked a highly emotional day for me. Looking down in the locker room 30 minutes before tip-off at my swollen knees, I knew that this game would be my last appearance for the Gilas national team,” he wrote.
“I knew that my body could not withstand the double duty, and unfortunately, nothing showed that more clearly than this tournament where the demands were intensified,” he added.
A 27-year-old Standhardinger was plucked from overseas leagues and reeled into the national basketball program by Chot Reyes back in 2017, where he reinforced an amateur-laden contingent that won the gold medal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Drafted first overall by San Miguel Beer in the PBA Draft that same year, he went on to become a fixture for Gilas, seeing action in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and as a naturalized player in several Fiba tournaments. He was also a member of the souped-up crew that defended its home turf in the 2019 edition of the SEA Games.
In a previous interview with the Inquirer, Standhardinger revealed that he has been playing through the PBA season with a problematic knee for most of the year. Despite that, he was splendid in the season-ending Governors’ Cup where he was named Best Player of the Conference.
That nagging knee injury was not going to keep him from helping the Philippines reclaim its lofty perch in the biennial meet. In a recent chat shortly after Gilas’ practices at Meralco Gym, Standhardinger said that suiting up for the national team requires his “absolute best,” and that “it doesn’t come with fun, but urgency.”
Now 33, the ace from Munich said it is only fitting that he followed in the footsteps of another former Gilas pillar in Jayson Castro.
“As you all saw, (Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser) and (Michael Phillips) showcased their exceptional skills every single game,” he said. “The future of Philippine basketball is in good hands and this brings me both relief and joy.”
Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and Michael Phillips came through for Gilas at a time when it was missing the services of marquee big men namely Japeth Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo. Ganuelas-Rosser, the NLEX rookie, and Phillips, the La Salle star, were also steady throughout the showcase in the Cambodian capital, starring in several of the Philippines’ victories there.
Standhardinger also tipped his hat on his last stint—which he said he will always hold close to his heart.
“Out of the three gold medals I have proudly won for my country, this one holds a special place in my heart. Surrounded by remarkable individuals, both as players and, more importantly, as human beings, I couldn’t ask for a better last experience,” he said.
“It is an absolute privilege to witness a team coming together in such a unique and remarkable way,” he added. “My journey in the Philippines began with a SEA Games gold medal, and it seems fitting that it concludes with one as well.”