Christian Standhardinger ends Gilas career a winner
Christian Standhardinger’s international career for Team Philippines started with a Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medal.
After winning a third one in the hardest way imaginable—and giving great consideration to painful knees ravaged by double PBA and national team duties—the 6-foot-7 workhorse is calling it a day internationally, but not after seeing that the Gilas Pilipinas team he will be leaving is “in good hands.”
“The [final] 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 in a lengthy Instagram entry on Saturday.
“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.
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Standhardinger has given it his all for flag and country and while in Cambodia, he got a full-length look at two players who can easily fill the void.
“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.”
Ganuelas-Rosser and Phillips came through for Gilas at a time when it missed the services of marquee big men Japeth Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo. The NLEX rookie and the La Salle star were also steady throughout the SEA Games, where the Filipinos turned back a Cambodian side heavily reinforced by Americans in the gold medal game.
A 27-year-old Standhardinger was plucked from overseas leagues and reeled into the national basketball program by Chot Reyes back in 2017, as he reinforced an amateur-laden contingent that won the gold medal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Selected 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, eventually becoming the Best Player of the Conference.
Rickety knees were not going to keep him, as it turned out, from helping the Philippines reclaim its lofty perch in the SEAG. In one interview shortly after Gilas practice 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 his latest gold medal is one he will 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.
“My journey in the Philippines began with a SEA Games gold medal and it seems fitting that it concludes with one as well.”