LIKE a true warrior, Christian Standhardinger vowed to suit up for Gilas in the knockout quarterfinals phase of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup on Wednesday - pain or no pain on his neck and shoulder.
The Munich-born Fil-German sat out the team’s final game in the pool phase on Sunday night at The Nouhad Nawfal Stadium, an 80-74 win over Qatar, due to a severe stiff neck and shoulder he suffered in the aftermath of a game against Iraq.
Despite his absence – and those of injured teammates Calvin Abueva and June Mar Fajardo – the Filipinos managed to pull off the victory and complete a three-game sweep of their qualifying phase assignment to top Pool B.
While his condition has improved after being managed by resident therapist Dexter Aseron, Standhardinger said he remains in ‘agony’ as the 6-foot-8 forward still feels some pain when he’s moving.
Yet despite everything, he said there’s no way will he miss the do-or-die quarterfinal match against either old Asian nemesis South Korea or Japan.
“No matter what, pain or no pain, I will play on Wednesday when it really counts,” said the 27-year-old Standhardinger in a video message posted on social media by Sports5 reporter Jutt Sulit straight from Beirut, Lebanon.
“We need to take care of every opportunity to be better,” he added while addressing Filipino basketball fans. “I needed to do what I can be to be 100 percent and to help the team as much as I can.”
Standhardinger admitted he had been feeling the stiffness on both his shoulder and neck even before he came over to Manila, only to become worse during the game against Iraq, which Gilas won, 84-68.
“Somebody hit me in the game, somebody hit me in the back and I heard it pop,” he recalled. “And since then, I felt a lot of pain moving.”
But it was a game the Filipinos can’t afford to lose advancing to the next stage, so Standhardinger played through the pain to score 10 straight points in opening the second half and sparked a huge third quarter turn around that allowed Gilas to pull away for good.
“Obviously that was a very important game for us so I just pushed through it,” he said. “I’m very happy we got the victory.”
In two games with Gilas in his Fiba Asia Cup debut, Standhardinger is submitting numbers of 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds.