CHRISTIAN Standhardinger could attest for PBA players testing the waters in the international setting feels like "playing a different sport."
"I mentioned that when I started playing in the PBA, I was struggling big time. And I said, this feels like a different sport; I'm learning here because it's so much more physical," he said. "The PBA is one of the most physical leagues I've ever played in, and internationally, you can do a lot less."
The Filipinos' struggles to adapt to the international game couldn't be more evident than in the fifth window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
This batch of Team Pilipinas, which was touted as the best collection of players to date, went 0-2 in its homestand, first losing to Kazakhstan, 92-88 on Friday, and once again suffering an eight-point meltdown to surrender to Iran, 78-70, on Monday.
For Standhardinger, that difference in the style of play is something Gilas must take note if it wants to thrive in international competitions, something which is very much different from the heightened level of physicality observed in the PBA.
"In the international game like in the FIBA window, and even in Germany and internationally where I played, it's not like this. Even in our tune-up games, it was very physical and the line of the calling was very easy to let it play through," he said.
"I just wanna stress the fact that I'm not knocking on the refs. No, it's just a different way of playing basketball, and you have to adjust to it, so we need to do a better job to adjust to this. I don't know what's the solution for it. Maybe to fly some FIBA refs or something, who are not Filipinos. There's nothing against the Filipino refs, but they just call it very physical. And the other refs from the other nations certain calls are much quicker to be made."
And for the Fil-German forward, the players themselves must do their part in knowing those differences, that some of the things they can get away in the PBA may otherwise be called for a whistle in the Fiba game.
Luckily, Standhardinger sees a number of players already fit for the international style of play.
"Jayson Castro has played so many times internationally, so he's adjusted and you cannot see (those problems). And Marcio Lassiter's game is kind of made for the international play, so he has an easier time," he said.
But that is not enough, and the change must be felt for everyone included and will get a future call up for national team duty.
"Some of my teammates, they need to really adjust. For some other guys, it's very tough to adjust so quickly to those games. You play two games and you have a break, and then you play the other way of playing basketball the whole time, and then you go again," he said.
"So I think it's a lot of watching film and learning what the refs call and what they don't call internationally."
At 5-5, the Philippines is in a precarious position in the second round of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers as it needs to sweep its remaining games against Qatar and Kazakhstan come February.
Standhardinger, though, has his full belief that his side is capable of clinching that ticket and advancing to the quadrennial meet.
"Everybody knows I have full faith in coach and my teammates," he said.