November 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

New Gilas member Standhardinger catching fancy of PBA coaches

FIL-GERMAN Christian Stanhardinger, the newest member of the Gilas Pilipinas program, is starting to gain the attention of local coaches hoping to see him in action in the PBA.

Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia cannot help but compare his energy to that of Rudy Hatfield, who retired from playing several years ago after winning several championships playing for Coca-Cola and Barangay Ginebra.

“He reminds me of Rudy Hatfield. He is very aggressive and with his height, he would help any team,” Mr. Garcia wrote in a text message to BusinessWorld.

Both Mr. Garcia and Alaska coach Alex Compton were impressed by the way the 6-foot-8 player brings his energy to the young Gilas Pilipinas squad competing in the William Jones Cup tournament.

“I think the kid will be a big-time player in the PBA. It is hard to find a big man, especially mobile and rugged ones with experience joining the draft. We won’t be picking first, so I won’t have both the privilege and dilemma of choosing between Christian, Kiefer (Ravena), Bobby Ray (Parks), and Jeron (Teng) as to who will be the top pick. But I do believe that all four of those players will have an immediate impact in the PBA,” added Mr. Compton.

If there’s one coach who is now studying his options carefully as to who will be his top pick is in next season’s draft, it’s Yeng Guiao, head coach and general manager of the NLEX Road Warriors.

Like the other mentors, Mr. Guiao’s fancy was caught by Mr. Standhardinger, who was quickly included by the multi-titled veteran bench tactician as one of the prospects. The Road Warriors are likely to pick ahead of the other 11 teams in the PBA, although the fiery coach isn’t discounting the possibility that their fortunes could change once they started winning games in the season-ending Governors’ Cup and go all the way.

“I’m not sure (if we will be picking No. 1), but we have the best odds among all teams. Unless miracle happens and we win the championship in the third conference,” said Mr. Guiao in jest. “Long shot, but miracles could happen.”

Turning serious, Mr. Guiao has a better reason putting Mr. Standhardinger from among his prospects.

“Standhardinger would surely be the best big man in the draft should he decides to enter,” added Mr. Guiao. “He looks like a hard worker with the maturity to make an immediate impact.”

The hardworking center has been making head turns with his impressive performance so far in the William Jones Cup Tournament.

“We are open to anything. Since there is no assurance we will pick No. 1. we would like to keep our options open. Right now, we are observing all possible choices. We are watching Kiefer, Standhardinger and Ray Parks and other talents very carefully. It’s too early to say who has the upper hand,” added Mr. Guiao.

Meralco head coach Norman Black, who is obviously looking to add a premier big man to shore up his lineup, had not seen Mr. Standhardinger play live, but has seriously considered picking him up for obvious reasons.

“I have not seen him play yet live, but from what Jimmy Alapag tells me, he is certainly talented enough to be the No. 1 pick. -- Rey Joble