Gilas Pilipinas big man Christian Standhardinger takes offense to the notion that the team got complacent in their crushing defeat against Iran during their last home game of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The Philippine team were leading by as much as eight points with less than eight minutes left in the final quarter, before a three-pointer made by Iran’s Mohammad Jamshidi sparked a 26-10 run that let the away side steal a 78-70 victory.
Ater falling in another heartbreaking defeat at home, the Philippines now drop to 5-5 behind the red-hot Japan team (6-4), who has won three-consecutive games after splitting their first two assignments.
Meanwhile, Iran improves to 7-3 to remain firm at second behind Group F leaders Australia (8-1). Only the top three countries from each group and the best fourth seed team from either brackets will qualify for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
When the 6-foot-8 forward heard about people questioning if they took their foot off the gas pedal and were coasting once they held the biggest lead of the game, Standhardinger took on a different tone.
“It’s very hard for me as a player to hear something like that. Especially when you play for the national team, you play for the country,” said Standhardinger. “I think that indicates a possibility that we didn’t go all out for a certain amount of time because we were up by eight.”
“That’s completely wrong and a little bit ridiculous. I just want to say that went all out every second.”
When asked what he thinks needs to be addressed going forward as they try to hold on to the lifeline and stay in the hunt for one of seven remaining World Cup berths for Asia, Standhardinger believes it’s preparing mentally for the different type of play of the international scene and in the PBA.
“Everyone knows I have full faith in coach and the team to make adjustments. I mentioned that when I started playing in the PBA and I was struggling big time, I said this is a different sport that I am learning here because it is so much more physical. I am not knocking on the refs, It’s just a different way of playing basketball.
Standhardinger, despite being Filipino-German and plays as a local in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), is considered a naturalized player in FIBA tournaments. With each team only allowed one, his status for future competitions remain in question depending on the preference of head coach Yeng Guiao.
Stanley Pringle had been the alternate for the past two windows, but the fiery mentor still has an option to bring back Andray Blatche, or consider other naturalized player candidates like Justin Brownlee.
“I don’t where it goes down for me, I just wanna to say we barely talk to coach Yeng. I have much much respect for him. I think he has a great system, he’s a great coach. It was really an honor to play under him,” said Standhardinger. “And I’m sorry that we let you down, and I let him down. But I have much, much respect for his system, his basketball IQ and overall his leadership.”
The Philippines play their final two games on the road in the sixth window of the Asian Qualifiers: Qatar on the 21st of February and against Iran on the 24th.
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