CHRISTIAN Standhardinger knows only a few Tagalog words so far, but at least the Filipino-German cager knows the important ones.
“I know ‘mahal kita,’” the 27-year-old cager said with a thick German accent as he talked to media for the first time after his first practice with Gilas Pilipinas on Wednesday afternoon.
Apart from whomever he’s addressing it to, it seems Standhardinger will also love playing for the national team and its fast-paced style of play after seeing one Gilas game in the past.
“I don't really remember which game, but I see it's a lot of uptempo speed and it's a lot of slashing and kicking and driving, great style of play,” Standhardinger said. “I'm excited to play that.”
The 6-foot-8 cager, named to the squad for the Southeast Asian Games in August, showed a glimpse of how he plays by taking part in the drills in his first practice after arriving on Tuesday evening.
“I think coach just expects to give everything you've got and I can bring to the team,” Standhardinger said. “I penetrate a lot to the basket, my rebounding is good so I think that's where I can help the team the most.”
However, Standhardinger, a former University of Hawaii standout who now plays pro ball in the second-tier German league, stressed he’s still away from being in game shape.
“I'm in the summer break in the German League so now I'm trying to get back in game shape to help the team as best as I can in the upcoming tournaments,” he said.
Standhardinger, though, believes he can thrive under coach Chot Reyes’ dribble-drive system.
“I understand what coach wants and he did a good job explaining what he really wants and how we can beat other teams so I think it was very good,” Standhardinger said.
Reyes has already seen how his new ward can play and welcomed what he can bring to the table.
“He gives us a big guy who can rebound and he also has some skills,” Reyes said. “We like his perimeter game, we like his ability to put the ball on the floor. I think he's an all-around skilled guy but now we need to see how he can cope with the physical game and the banging on the elite Asian level.”
“(But) we're not worried,” he added. “He's a good kid. I think he'll come around.”
Standhardinger is simply relishing this chance to represent his country of his mom, who's from Angono, Rizal.
“I think it's always a great opportunity for me to make my family here in the Philippines proud so that's why I decided to come here and give my best,” he said.