After ABL letdown, Standhardinger set for 'fresh start' with San Miguel in PBA
Fil-German Christian Standhardinger honors the Philippine anthem during Game Two of the ABL semifinal between Alab and HK Eastern on Sunday. Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer believes top pick Christian Standhardinger joining the team earlier than expected augurs well in the Beermen’s title retention bid in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

SMB team manager Gee Abanilla said the franchise is already looking forward to having the 6-foot-7 Fil-German on board as soon as the Beermen open their training camp this weekend.

Standhardinger, 27, will be coming in sooner than anticipated after his Hong Kong Eastern Lions team was booted out by Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) semifinals last Sunday.

Alab Pilipinas, ironically, is also backed by San Miguel.

“Christian’s earlier arrival is always a welcome development for us,” said Abanilla on Tuesday.“We are really excited to have him join our practices sooner than later.”

The Fil-German rookie was expected to join San Miguel in the middle of May at the latest as the Lions were favored to reach the ABL finals for the second straight year.

But the third-seeded Alab completed a two-game sweep of the deposed champion in the semis to cut short Standhardinger’s inaugural season in the regional league.

Abanilla said San Miguel wasn’t in a hurry to have Standhardinger on board, aware he has a job to do for the Lions.

“We certainly respect his personal privacy and how he deals with Hong Kong Eastern’s loss in the ABL semifinals,” he added.

At the same time though, Abanilla said his much-awaited debut for the Beermen, who just captured a historic fourth straight Philippine Cup championship and are on track to completing a rare grand slam, could also offer a fresh start for last year’s No. 1 overall pick.

“This (ABL loss) just means that he will be free from his contractual obligations earlier and could possibly start a new beginning with the Beermen when he is ready and at peace with the situation,” added the former San Miguel coach turned team official.

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Standhardinger’s early arrival gives him at least three weeks to get familiar with coach Leo Austria’s system as the Beermen won’t be playing their first game in the second conference until the first week of May.

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