Christian Standhardinger: The Blue Collar Big Man

Marco Benitez on Dec 13, 2017 11:23 AM
The Blue Collar Big Man
NO FLASH NEEDED. Christian Standhardinger is all about the hustle. (FILE PHOTO)

The Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club (formerly Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions) are the defending champions of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) for good reason. Last season they had the most potent backcourt tandem in World Import MVP Marcus Elliot, and Asian Heritage Import MVP Tyler Lamb. They also had former NBA player Josh Boone patrolling the paint en route to their first championship in their first year in the ABL.

This season, Hong Kong Eastern still retained their potent backcourt, but surprisingly they opted for a non-NBA front court anchored on Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, who made waves playing for Gilas Pilipinas and was the hands down no. 1 overall pick in this year’s PBA Draft. Paired with him in the slot is 43-year old Ryan Moss, Hong Kong’s other world import, who last season also served as the team’s strength and conditioning coach.

Four games into the season, while Hong Kong has not looked as invincible as it did last year, they are still undefeated despite all its games having been played in hostile territory. In all four games, Standhardinger has been the hero.

In their opening game in the Mall of Asia Arena, Standhardinger hit two crucial jumpers to keep Tanduay Alab Pilipinas at bay and seal the win for Hong Kong despite trailing for stretches during the game.

In their second game against the CLS Knights of Indonesia, Hong Kong was down by as much as 15 points, but in the fourth period, Standhardinger would score Hong Kong’s last 11 points in regulation, including three free throws to force the overtime, and it was then that Hong Kong turned on the D to limit CLS to just 3 points, while they rattled off 12 to seal the win.

In their third game against the Mono Vampire squad of Thailand, Standhardinger exploded for a career-high 40 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and got 5 steals to lead Hong Kong, who did not have services of Ryan Moss for that game, against a sweet shooting Vampire club who boasted one of the league’s best big men in world import Reggie Johnson.

Not only was Standhardinger absurdly efficient – he shot 15 of 21 from the field (71%) and 10 of 14 from the line (71%) – he outplayed the bulkier Johnson, outrunning him in transition, preventing him from getting the ball consistently in his comfort zone, and getting him to commit 6 turnovers while nursing foul trouble for majority of the contest. His ability to get to the foul line alone is a big advantage, showing his knack for drawing fouls in the act of shooting, giving him freebies from the stripe, where he is respectable 72% on the season.

Even more impressive was the fact that Standhardinger got his baskets without being the primary option on offense nor were there hardly specific plays run solely for him. Majority of his points came off of put backs (he had 10 offensive rebounds), cuts from the weakside, rolls to the rim after setting screens for the ballhandler, and popping to the corner when the defense keyed in on an attacking Elliot or Lamb. Another thing CS loves to do which gets him easy baskets is outrun opposing big men in transition. Against Mono, I counted at least 6 to 8 points scored in transition with him outrunning the heftier Johnson and receiving an outlet pass from Elliot ahead of the defense.

Against the Slingers last Sunday, CS had a more modest output of 18 pts on 6 of 14 from the field, 6 of 7 from the line, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Of his 18 points, only 2 points came off a jump shot he took off a dribble. Another basket came off a pop out from a baseline inbound. 10 points came off either his roll to the basket after setting a screen, receiving a pass off a weakside cut or a dive from top of the key, or a simple drop pass from a Marcus Elliot penetration. Even his free throws were off of rolls and cuts to the basket where he would get fouled in the act of shooting. Amazingly, not once was he the first option on a post up.

In short, Standhardinger is the epitome of the blue collar big man, who gets his points primarily through hustle and playing within the system; without being the focal point of it. Add to this a reliable jumpshot from mid-range – perfect for those pop outs after setting a screen – and a knack for chasing after lose balls, and you have a big man any coach would love to have on his team. There are no fancy or unnecessary movements; but his quick hands, uncanny footwork, and proven “clutch-ness” are all icing on the cake of the Fil-German Filipinos now regard as the next great big man we can call our own.

Catch Christian Standhardinger and Hong Kong Eastern try for a fifth win in a row against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas tonight at 8:00 PM on S+A, S+A HD, and livestream.

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