Ariel Vanguardia hoping for miracle as Phoenix eyes big man Standhardinger at No. 4 pick
Ariel Vanguardia knows it's a long shot to land Christian Standhardinger but hopes Phoenix fills a pressing need for a big man in the draft. Jerome Ascano

ANTIPOLO – Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia is eager to fill his team’s need for a legitimate big man in the upcoming PBA Draft following the Fuel Masters’ early ouster from the Governors’ Cup.

And who better to covet than Christian Standhardinger, the Filipino-German slotman who has made waves with Gilas Pilipinas and has shown flashes of brilliance in his first few international tournaments.

Well aware that Standhardinger is the potential top pick in the draft class, Vanguardia is hoping the Fil-German standout to miraculously still be available when the Fuel Masters make their selection with the No. 4 pick.

Based on their computations, Vanguardia said the Fuel Masters are picking fourth overall in the draft, apart from another first-round pick they got from Meralco in the Ranidel de Ocampo trade.

“There is a need really for a big man,” Vanguardia said after the team’s 109-107 loss to San Miguel Beer on Wednesday night. “Even Brandon (Brown) mentioned that we're a big man away from contending. He felt that if there was a legitimate big man who can do both scoring and rebounding, it would be a lot easier for our scorers.”

“If we can get Standhardinger,why not?” he added. “It's a long shot, but we'll never know.”

Vanguardia feels there could be reluctance for the teams that own the top three picks to draft Standhardinger, who’s set to miss the first half of next season owing to a commitment to the Hong Kong Eastern Lions in the Asean Basketball League.

“Malay mo, the first three teams, they don’t like him, because he’s not going to play for the first six months,” Vanguardia said. “We’re willing to wait.”

If his wish won’t come true, Vanguardia has a handful of other promising big men he’s looking at in Raymar Jose, Jason Perkins, and Lervin Flores.

For their other first-round pick, it seems Vanguardia is looking at a guard and among the ones his eyeing are Rey Nambatac, Robert Bolick, and Davon Potts.

“Hopefully Kiefer enters, hopefully Parks enters,” Vanguardia continued. “Pwede pa eh, kasi si Parks is considered Filipino, so hopefully last minute, malay mo, abutan namin bigla. (Jeron) Teng is there.”

“So maganda, yung number four, meron makukuha na complement player,” he added. “We got lucky this year we had Matt (Wright), then we had (Joseph) Eriobu in the trade, and Gelo (Alolino), so another three rookies of that caliber, that will be the future of the franchise.”


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