MANILA, Philippines – If Game 5 is any indication, Christian Standhardinger can no longer be left wide open for jump shots.
Standhardinger flaunted his improved shooting as he drained two crucial jumpers in helping Barangay Ginebra nail a 3-2 lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals with a 115-110 win over Meralco on Sunday, April 17.
The Bolts were breathing down the Gin Kings’ necks after cutting a 14-point deficit to a whisker off a blazing 15-2 run before Standhardinger steadied the ship for his weary side with back-to-back buckets.
He sank a jump shot from near the free throw line to give Ginebra a 100-97 advantage before he sank a fallaway jumper over Tony Bishop and Mac Belo to stretch their lead to 5 points.
Those two timely baskets were part of a decisive 7-0 run that allowed the Gin Kings to move on the cusp of their fourth Governors’ Cup title in six seasons.
“He is knocking down his jumper and that is awesome because that adds a weapon to his game and people cannot just sit in the paint on him,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone.
Standhardinger finished with 13 points on top of 7 rebounds and 3 assists, with most of his points coming from outside the restricted area, the space underneath the basket where he is known to dominate.
Cone said the Filipino-German workhorse is reaping the rewards of the work he puts in during practice.
“You cannot believe how hard he works. [He] comes in every practice and probably gets up 300 or 400 shots every practice,” Cone said.
“He gets all this coaching advice on form and stuff, so he is trying all these different things.”
Standhardinger has been a solid force in the finals.
He is averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.4 steals as he continues to fill the role of Japeth Aguilar, who has since returned from a calf injury but remains under minutes restriction.
While Standhardinger initially struggled to find his place within the Gin Kings’ system, he eventually figured out his role thanks to assurance from team honchos that he does not really need to produce gaudy numbers.
For comparison, Standhardinger averaged 22.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1.4 steals for NorthPort when he won his maiden Best Player of the Conference in the 2019 Governors’ Cup.
Those numbers have dipped to 14.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists this conference, but Standhardinger is not complaining.
“I played in Europe, I played in Germany, I played in Hong Kong, you kind of have to score,” said Standhardinger.
“And if you do not score, but you do all the other work that is not there on the stat sheet, then they will be mad at you and they will tell that you’re not playing good.”
“I’m very happy that boss Al (Chua) and coach Tim, they see the other things that I bring to the court. There is no pressure and I just can truly focus on winning it.” – Rappler.com