Gilas big man Christian Standhardinger embraces pressure after Junemar Fajardo injury
Pressure is on for Christian Standhardinger as Gilas plays China in the opener. Jerome Ascano 

CHRISTIAN Standhardinger is embracing yet another added pressure as he and the rest of the remaining big men in Gilas Pilipinas’ Fiba Asia Cup squad try to fill the void left by not only Andray Blatche, but now also June Mar Fajardo.

Taking Blatche’s spot as the team’s naturalized player, the Filipino-German Standhardinger rued the timing of Fajardo’s injury, but is confident to fill in their shoes – but it will take a collective effort from him, Japeth Aguilar, and Raymond Almazan.  

“June Mar is an amazing player and it hurts the team that he is not here obviously,” Standhardinger said after practice on Saturday. “I think that we need to come together as a team now. It's going to be a tough challenge but at the end of the day, there's a lot of pressure.”

[See Chot Reyes focused on Gilas' healthy players after Junemar Fajardo setback: ‘If he can play, then that’s a bonus’]

“Andray is not playing, June Mar is not playing, we did not have as much practices as we wanted to because of the PBA schedule, but we just have to go out there and play our best,” he added.

The 6-foot-8 Standhardinger, though, insists he’s comfortable playing against players taller than him – and whom he’ll meet right in the national team’s first game in Lebanon on Wednesday against China.

“Actually, I like to play against taller players,” Standhardinger said. “I might have the disadvantage in height because usually I don't play five, but in the Philippines I am the five to help the team.”

“I'll take on the challenge,” he added. “I hope that they will not like playing against me.”

While he welcomed the expected extended minutes in the absence of Fajardo, Almazan still regrets missing a frontline partner in the Asian championships.

“Sobrang laking challenge ito sa’kin kasi madadagdagan playing time ko kasi wala si June Mar,” Almazan said. “At the same time, malungkot pero nangyayari talaga yung mga ganyan, hindi natin inaasahan yang mga ganyan maski na last-minute.

“Punan na lang natin yung pagkawala ni June Mar kasi malaking bagay yon so lahat kailangan mag-contribute,” he added.

[See June Mar Fajardo won't rule out playing for Gilas in Lebanon if calf injury gets better]

Aguilar didn’t practice with Gilas on Saturday as he was with Barangay Ginebra for his mother team’s PBA Governors’ Cup road game against NLEX in Pangasinan later in the day.


Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos