PBA: Standhardinger holds down fort as SMB awaits June Mar's return
Philip Matel on Oct 24, 2018 11:28 PM
Without Fajardo, San Miguel has stayed solid at sixth place with a 5-4 record.
Obviously, the San Miguel Beermen look like a very different team without reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.
The juggernaut of the PBA without its main man in the middle was to be seen as a challenge for the team, as the prized big man is still down due to a stress fracture in his foot.
However, stepping in during Fajardo's absence is #1 pick Christian Standhardinger, who has flourished in the Governors' Cup, posting averages of 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in the Beermen's nine outings.
Without Fajardo, San Miguel has stayed solid at sixth place with a 5-4 record, and the Beermen may look even better as Fajardo could make his conference debut on Saturday in Biñan, if coach Leo Austria's pronouncement becomes reality.
In the Beermen's 114-107 win against the pesky NorthPort Batang Pier, Standhardinger again acted like a second import, scoring 21, and grabbing 22 rebounds in exactly 40 minutes inside the court.
"We’ve been playing without June Mar in the last five games so obviously nothing changed in my mindset and the whole team," the Fil-German said after the game.
"I think, we did a great job in compensating his big absence and we can’t wait to have him back so we’re gonna be a better team."
Despite losing AZ Reid to injury, the team found an explosive scorer in former NBA player Kevin Murphy, who rose to becoming the league's top scorer with 32.4 ppg.
In Fajardo's return, the team will have to rework the offense again as the reigning three-time Coach of the Year Austria will be re-inserting the 6'10 giant back into the fold.
Quite the problem it would be for the Beermen, who are chasing the twice-to-beat advantage that the top four teams in the standings are awarded to.
"...[W] hen June Mar comes back obviously he’s a key player for us so we have to adjust again and that’s gonna be a tough situation for us (but) I think we have high basketball IQ to figure it out."
Despite Austria expressing his unapproval of Standhardinger's perceived lack of effort on defense, especially defending the pick-and-roll, which NorthPort used to great effect in mounting a come back, the super rookie gave his two cents.
"I just give my best outside and just give my best to hustle and give my best to the team and even he thinks that I didn’t do a good job, then I didn’t do a good job I apologize."
Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.