MANILA, Philippines – After a stunning sweep by Alab Pilipinas over defending champion Hong Kong Eastern in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) semifinals, Christian Standhardinger’s crossroads with the Philippines has come to a full stop.
However, in a true show of team loyalty, the Fil-German standout did not show an inkling of a celebratory mood after Eastern’s final loss of the season. He gamely posed for photos, but did not smile. He mingled with the fans for their pleasure, but not for his own. During the post-game press conference, Standhardinger refused to even answer any question not related to Hong Kong Eastern.
“I’m very honored that I have a very close and deep connection with the Filipino fans and the Filipino people, and I cherish that,” he said. “But I’m not gonna talk about myself or my future career. If you have questions about us as a team, then I’m gonna answer that. If you have questions about me personally, I’m not gonna answer, and I say that with all due respect.”
Being one of Hong Kong’s imports in their now-concluded ABL campaign, the Gilas Pilipinas cadet often found himself at the opposing side of the Filipino fans. In fact, he was largely responsible for Alab’s cellar-dwelling 0-3 start in the regular season, given that they faced the Eastern team twice in that span.
But still, he naturally had the strongest connection with the Filipino fans, who still cheered for him in Hong Kong’s player introductions. He could’ve easily chosen to reciprocate their affection, but he didn’t out of respect to his current team. He could’ve easily discussed his future as the prized rookie of the San Miguel Beermen, but chose not to while in clear earshot of his current coach.
Amid a throng of adoring countrymen, he chose to project himself as a Hong Kong player for one last time. Beyond the averages of 22.5 points and 11.8 rebounds, Standhardinger displayed loyalty – the intangible asset unbound by numbers and analysis.
If anything, his dejected demeanor in Sta. Rosa, Laguna says a lot about his character as a basketball player. If Standhardinger can give his heart to a team without any prior connection to him, then fans can expect more of the same to show once he plays for home once again. – Rappler.com