CHRISTIAN Standhardinger received a few boos from the Filipino crowd late in the fourth quarter as Hong Kong Eastern put away a win over the home team.
He didn't mind.
"I didn't hear the booing," Standhardinger said later. "I (still) love the Filipino fans. If they cheer me, or they boo me, it's okay. Nothing personal. It's all good. It's all love."
The Gilas mainstay set his allegiance aside and was all business as he led Hong Kong Eastern to a 92-89 win over Tanduay Alab Pilipinas in an impressive Asean Basketball League (ABL) debut.
He finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds in his first game in front of Filipino fans at the Mall of Asia Arena, who got a full lowdown of the skills of the Fil-German big man who is set to play for San Miguel in the PBA in six months' time.
"I was so excited. The gym was full. What a great atmosphere. This is what I love about the Philippines. Great basketball culture. We have a great basketball culture. That's why I'm always happy when I'm back here," said the 28-year-old.
The 6-foot-7 German league veteran had an interesting match-up with Alab import Ivan Johnson, with the two getting physical and even trash talking on the side.
"He is a beast," said Standhardinger of Johnson. "He is just as physical but it's nothing personal. I play hard as possible. I play right on the line of what is allowed and what is not. He does the same thing and that's how you play against each other.
"At the end of the day, you shake hands and no extra stuff. But it's fun competing against him and we look forward to the next game," said Standhardinger.
Standhardinger praised his team for keeping its poise after Alab came back from 15 points down to make a game of it in the final stretch.
"You can't lose your focus, you can't lose your emotions. You can get frustrated but we kept on working hard. And at the end, we came out with the victory. As good as they are, they could have also got the victory. But I'm happy that it was us this time," said Standhardinger.