All-Filipino 'puso' on display for German-born Standhardinger
MANILA, Philippines – “I see you Christian! Balling out! This man got so much PUSO in him! #Salute.”
I see you Christian! Balling out! This man got so much PUSO in him! #Salute— Asi Taulava (@agelessasi88) August 11, 2017
Leave it to Filipino-Tongan legend Asi Taulava to know what it’s like to serve a second home.
Nearly two decades since the now-44 year old’s professional debut, another foreign-based Filipino is working hard to earn the full trust of his fellowmen: Christian Standhardinger.
The 28-year old naturalized Filipino big man from Munich, Germany turned heads once again in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon with his role in Gilas Pilipinas’ 84-68 walloping of Iraq. Although he has roots from the province of Rizal, he was not recognized as a Filipino before naturalization because he only acquired his Filipino passport after he was 16 years old.
Gilas struggled mightily early on in the game with poor inside scoring and foul trouble. Iraq led by as many as 6 points until Gilas closed out halftime by a single mark, 32-31. However, Standhardinger woke up in a big way in the third quarter, leading a personal 8-0 scoring run. Along with great defense and support from Terrence Romeo, Gilas left Iraq dumbfounded with a blistering 21-0 run to put a definitive end to their opponents’ hopes. Standhardinger finished with 16 points, just second to Romeo’s 17.
This is nothing new, however, to those who have followed Standhardinger’s short Gilas run. Just last game, when Gilas upset the defending FIBA Asia Cup champion China, he chimed in with the team’s “puso” and ended with 15 points, again second to Romeo’s 26. After a brilliant debut in the 2017 Jones Cup, Standhardinger impressed team officials who decided to promote him from the younger Gilas squad featuring Kiefer Ravena and Kobe Paras.
Standhardinger had stellar collegiate numbers as part of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors squad, where he posted averages of 18.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.7 blocks in his final year of play. Despite those numbers, Standhardinger’s skill set is far from breathtaking. He has no reliable jump shot and can’t regularly sink his free throws either. He is pretty much your prototypical generic big man.
However, his hustle is what keeps the live Filipino audience jumping up and down their seats. Even at just 6 feet and 7 inches tall, he is not afraid to bang down low and outrebound the seven-footer giants facing his way for easy put-back buckets.
He knows his limitations and instead plays to his strengths, unlike fellow Gilas big men like Andray Blatche, who prefers to be a ball-handler and perimeter shooter. He also does not let his relatively smaller frame stop him from standing up for his teammates in times of confrontations, as evidenced by his actions against Lithuania in the Jones Cup.
After two efficient outings that netted Gilas a 2-0 head start in the tournament, Standhardinger will look to execute the same fundamental moves over and over again until his matchups break.
Standhardinger will keep hustling, the crowd will keep cheering and Gilas will hopefully keep winning. In the words of former US President Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Rappler.com