TEAM Pilipinas is bringing in the big guns for its all-important duel against Iran on Monday with the entry of Christian Standhardinger.
The Fil-German forward is set to replace Stanley Pringle as the country's naturalized player for the tiff, especially with the nation reeling from its shock 92-88 defeat to Kazakhstan on Friday in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
"It’s always disappointing to lose and I think we all know that we had a good chance to win this game. Unfortunately, we did not. So we need to learn out from this defeat and hopefully, be everything together on Monday and win against a much, much better team," he said.
Coach Yeng Guiao has already assured the spot of Standhardinger, Jayson Castro, and Troy Rosario in his lineup for the second of the two-game homestand.
But the San Miguel first-year player knows better not to take Iran lightly even though old reliables like Hamed Haddadi and Arsalan Kazemi aren't expected to make the trip and show up at Mall of Asia Arena.
Regardless of who the players are and despite Team Melli's 76-47 humiliating loss to Australia, Iran still has the pedigree and remains as one of Asia's powerhouse teams.
For Standhardinger, he's just all too confident with his game that he believes he can contribute to the Philippines' cause in one way or the other.
"Obviously, you guys know that my game is everything but perfect. You know I’m a little unconventional, but I do think that with my speed on the court, I hope I can help the team a little bit and hope that will be enough to win against Iran, which is, like I said, a much, much better team than this team," he said.
The road to the World Cup may have just gotten a lot tougher for the Philippines, but Standhardinger is defiant, vowing to give it his all when he holds court on Monday.
"I do feel pressure playing for the country. I do feel pressure giving my all. But I wanna go out there no matter how many points, rebounds I make," he said. "I feel pressure to play my heart out and to play my best for the country."
The Philippines is currently tied with Japan at joint third place in Group F of the second round of the Asian qualifiers with their identical 5-4 records.