MANILA, Philippines－Carl Bryan Cruz and Christian Standhardinger were among those who refused to back down without a fight in Gilas Pilipinas’ recent William Jones Cup stint in Taiwan, and both remain battle-ready as they face a double tour of duty for the Philippine team in the upcoming 2017 FIBA Asia Cup and the Southeast Asian Games this August.
Both Cruz and Standhardinger were named to the rosters for the back-to-back tourneys, with FIBA Asia taking place from August 8 to 20, and the regional meet kicking off on August 19.
The national team coaching staff acknowledged the fact that a few issues may arise as the two will fly from Beirut, Lebanon all the way to Kuala Lumpur for the SEA Games with possibly little to no rest.
But Cruz, who formerly suited up for the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the collegiate ranks, says he’s already conditioning his mind and body ahead of the consecutive competitions.
If anything, Gilas’ 9 games in as many days in the Jones Cup proved to be a good training ground for the upcoming tournaments.
“Alam kong nakakapagod, pero you have to motivate yourself nalang talaga to play strong, play consistent,” Cruz told Rappler of his team’s Jones Cup experience. “Tsaka pinaglalaban mo lang bayan so ‘yung mga ganung scenario, makakalimutan mo na ‘yung pagod. Kinukundisyon ko na ‘yung utak ko.”
(I know it can be tiring, but you have to motivate yourself to just play strong, play consistent. And you’re just fighting for the country, so in those types of scenario, you’ll forget all about the fatigue. I’m already conditioning my mind now.)
Heading into the FIBA Asia tilt, the Alaska Aces’ forward hopes the Gilas squad, a mix of PBA veterans and cadets, can build and bank on chemistry to finally catch that elusive gold.
“‘Yung iba, may laro sa mother team nila [sa PBA]. So kumbaga, ‘di pa namin nakakasama nang matagal ‘yung mga PBA veterans. Siguro ‘yun ‘yung kailangan namin ma-overcome, ‘yung bonding namin,” shared Cruz.
(The other players have games with their mother teams, so we haven’t really been with the PBA veterans for a long time. Perhaps that’s one of the things we need to overcome, our team bonding.)
While aware fatigue may settle in during back-to-back game days, Cruz focuses on pacing himself so that he may efficiently contribute to both lineups when they play this month.
“Nakakapagod nga ‘yun eh. Pero ibibigay nalang talaga namin ‘yung best namin para manalo. Hard work lang.”
(Yes, it can be really tiring, but we’ll just give our best to win. We just need to work hard.)
Standhardinger, for his part, doesn’t mind the double duty either. The Filipino-German player refuses to dwell on the fact that his team would be playing sans naturalized big man Andray Blatche in FIBA Asia, and relays that the pressure will be there no matter what.
“I’m just trying to do the best in my abilities to help this team win two tournaments and I think there’s never such a thing like pressure on one player,” Standhardinger told reporters in the Gilas press conference Saturday in Ortigas.
“I think there’s always a lot of pressure on the whole team because this is a team sports. I’m excited for those two tournaments, and I hope we can come home with two victories.” －Rappler.com
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