Christian Standhardinger showed a sample of the firepower he will be bringing to the PBA and specifically to the San Miguel Beermen as he led the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a thrilling 92-89 victory over Tanduay Alab Pilipinas late Sunday night in an explosive debut in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
The 6’8” Fil-German rookie led his team with 26 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and two steals in his first competitive game in the Philippines witnessed by a large crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila.
Standhardinger, this year’s top pick overall in the PBA rookie draft, is set to play for SMB in June next year after he finishes his six-month contract with the Hong Kong ballclub.
The Gilas standout, playing as a Heritage Import in this FIBA-sanctioned regional tournament, was at his deadliest in the endgame when he buried two clutch jumpers that poured cold water on the rallying Alab Pilipinas.
After Alab World import Reggie Okosa nailed a three-pointer that cut Hong Kong’s lead to just two points, 88-86, with less than a minute left, Standhardinger scored on a mid-range jumper with 17 seconds left to give his team a two-possession lead.
Alab responded with a three-point play courtesy of Bobby Ray Parks, cutting Hong Kong’s lead to a point, 90-89, with 10 seconds left. But with five seconds left, Standhardinger got free once again to deliver the killer blow on the Filipinos
With no timeouts left, Alab’s Josh Urbiztondo was forced to launch a desperation shot at midcourt, with the ball circling the basket before falling out, to secure the win for the defending ABL champions.
Standhardinger got ample support from reigning ABL World Import MVP Marcus Elliott, who dished out 25 points, nine assists, and eight boards, and Heritage Import MVP Tyler Lamb, who poured 23 points, including 3-of-6 from downtown, along with three assists and two rebounds.
Alab was led by Okosa with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks. Parks led Alab’s locals with 17 points, 16 of them in the second half. World Import and former TNT reinforcement Ivan Johnson also contributed 17 points on top of 15 rebounds, three assists, and two steals before fouling out with 3:23 left in the game. Urbiztondo added 14 points, seven rebounds, and two assists in the losing effort.
The Filipinos fought back from a 15-point deficit, 63-48, in the third quarter and even took a 74-73 lead with 8:07 left in the fourth quarter.
But the defending champions struck back with a 9-0 run to take an 82-74 lead with 5:45 left.
Alab will look to bounce back from the loss on Nov. 29 against the Singapore Slingers at Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Standhardinger was all pumped up after the game. Speaking to a Spin reporter, he said he didn’t mind if Filipino fans booed him since he was playing for the opposing team. “I love the Filipino fans. If they cheer me, or they boo me, it’s okay. Nothing personal. It’s all good. It’s all love,” he said.