Standhardinger gives Gilas flexibility in naturalized player spot with Blatche uncertain
It will be either Andray Blatche or Christian Standhardinger as naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon next month.

ANDRAY Blatche or Fil-German Christian Standhardinger?

That's one of the big decisions Gilas Pilipinas coaches and management are facing a month before the national team goes to war in the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon next month.

Like Blatche, the Munich-born Standhardinger, whose Filipina mother Liz traces her roots to Angono, Rizal, is only eligible to play as a naturalized player for Gilas in the August 8-20 showpiece since he failed to secure a Philippine passport before turning 16 as mandated by Fiba rules.

Fiba rules also limit each team to one naturalized player in the tournament, meaning Gilas coach Chot Reyes will have to choose who to bring between Blatche and the 6-8 Standhardinger.

"When the coaches decide, they'll always have to consider now if Christian is a good mix to the group. Kasi, lahat naman yan will be the coaches' decision, and based on what the needs are," said team manager Butch Antonio after Gilas wrapped up its practice at the Upper Deck Gym in Pasig City on Tuesday.

Such choice is a good problem to have, according to Antonio.

"It's also subject to availability. I mean, it might not be everyday na Andray will be available. It's good to have options," said the amiable official, referring to Blatche's availability for Fiba World Cup qualifer. 

"It's not naman na hindi pwede si Christian or what, pero that's true, palaisipan 'yan. They really have to think hard about it. But again, like all things with this team, everything finds a way to work itself out."

[See Liz Standhardinger proud to see son find his way 'home' in basketball career]

Right now, Antonio said the team is glad to have on board the 28-year-old Standhardinger, who will make his debut  in the Jones Cup in Chinese-Taipei and suit up in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur as well.

The former US Division I player gives Gilas the flexibility it needs under the new home-and-away format of the World Cup qualifiers, Antonio said.

"It's really good to have Christian on board. We will be having a lot of home-and-away games away eh, and we cannot just rely on a certain batch. That's why the concept of the pool is put eh," he said.

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