<
>

Recovering Standhardinger open to make NorthPort debut against former team

Christian Standhardinger, who is still recovering from a left knee injury, welcomes the idea of making his NorthPort Batang Pier debut on Wednesday against his former team, San Miguel.

"I'll try to play. It's gonna be fun playing out there and competing," he said on Monday. "[The knee is] getting better, day by day. We made another MRI last Saturday. You can't see something, but it's not too bad. I'm not out."

Standhardinger, who was traded to the Batang Pier by the Beermen last week, hasn't really seen a lot of time on the court (12.8 minutes per game) in the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup due to the injury, but his activity with his new team and the national team in the last couple of days appears to be an indication that he's progressing closer to full health.

"The last couple of days, I've been practicing like crazy. Team practice, Gilas, exercising the knee and so far it's holding up. I'm confident. There's a lot more to come and I have to be focused on the future so I can help NorthPort as much as possible," he said.

"Let's hope it works and if it bothers me, then I'll sub myself out. Coach (Pido Jarencio) said, 'If you wanna be subbed out, just let me know.' It's the other way around now. He's like, 'You tell me when you wanna be subbed out and then try to beg me to get subbed in.' I like it that way around," Standhardinger added.

Having an open line of communication with Jarencio regarding his condition has boded well for Standhardinger, who welcomed the trust and patience that Batang Pier officials have shown him since his arrival.

"They have a lot of trust of me and I'm very appreciative of that," the big man said. "If a coach has trust in me, then I'll run through walls for him, which I will do and I told him he won't regret it. It's just a matter of time."

"I told them I still have to get my knee back, but they're very patient and I appreciate their confidence in me. It will take some time, but I think I'll be able to get back to the Christian I was when I got here," he added.

The game on Wednesday could mark the first time Standhardinger plays his former team. Missing a chance at a season trifecta -- which is something that San Miguel is aiming to do -- is admittedly a missed opportunity for Standhardinger, but he doesn't have any ill feelings towards the trade.

"I wish I could've had a chance to win a Grand Slam, but it is what it is. I think the players from San Miguel are great and I only wish them the best. I know they're gonna win a lot more titles," said Standhardinger.

The prospect of going up against a Beermen team oozing with depth will undoubtedly be a tall task. SMB's June Mar Fajardo said they will "make things difficult" for NorthPort, but Standhardinger believes the level of talent that the Batang Pier have should give them a fighting chance against anybody.

"They're a great team. I think we all agree that we are the underdogs in this game, by far. It's just being out there and competing as hard as possible and, you know, making it as hard as possible for them. Obviously with our team I think we can win against anybody, but let's not lie: including me, we are not as talented as other teams, like San Miguel. We just have to play hard together," he said.