July 19, 2018, 5:58 am
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Red carpet welcome for Christian

THE impending arrival of Christian Standhardinger earlier than expected should be a plus but not enough to make San Miguel Beer a cinch to top the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Coach Leo Austria stressed this, maintaining his earlier stand that Standhardinger’s entry into the team raises some concerns that he and his staff hope to solve before they start campaigning in the mid-season conference that starts on Sunday.

“Everyone knows that teamwork is as important as hard work in any team and our chemistry might be disrupted when Standhardinger arrives,” Austria told Malaya-Business Insight.

“Another thing, it takes quite a while, maybe more than a few games, before a player learns our system,” added Austria.

“With all these things, it is up to us coaches to solve and we hope he’d be ready for us and we’ll be ready for him as the tournament goes along, hopefully sooner than later.”

Standhardinger, SMB’s top pick overall in the last draft, was initially expected to join the team in late May but should be arriving earlier after the HongKong Eastern squad, where he plays, got booted out from the ABL semifinals last Sunday.

That should quicken the 6-foot-8 Fil-German’s integration into SMB which starts once he reports for practice.

Standhardinger is sure to receive a warm welcome from his new teammates.

“Nakasama ko na siya sa Gilas kaya alam ko na makakatulong siya sa team,” said SMB prized center June Mar Fajardo, referring to their stint with the national team in last year’s FIBA Asia Cup.

“Basta ako kung anuman ang maitutulong ko sa kanya dito sa San Miguel gagawin ko,” added Fajardo.

Gunner Marcio Lassiter also can’t wait to meet and play with Standhardinger.

“I haven’t met him, but I’ve heard he’s a great guy,” said Lassiter. “I’ve seen his work in the ABL, so I’m sure he can help us.”

Like Austria, Lassiter also said Standhardinger’s entry to the Beermen does not instantly make them a cinch to retain the crown.

“We’ll see. You still gotta show up and play,” said the sniper. “I don’t think on paper you can win games, you gotta put the work in and I’m sure he’ll understand that. He’s played all over the world, I guess.”

SMB, which recently bagged an unprecedented fourth Philippine Cup crown in as many years, returns to practice this Friday for the tournament featuring imports no taller than 6-foot-10.

Austria intends to start reiterating his warning for his players to put in the hard work right in those sessions. “More so right now since everybody would be gunning for us,” he said.
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