MANILA, Philippines – While he is obviously delighted to have ended their FIBA 3x3 World Cup campaign on a strong note, Christian Standhardinger could not help but feel a little frustrated as well.
The Philippines wrapped up their Pool C assignments by dismantling No. 3 seed Russia, 19-12, for a 2-2 win-loss record in the group.
Their two wins were not enough to send them to the quarterfinals. Indeed, the Filipinos had been out of the running since losing their third game to Canada in brutal fashion, 20-19.
"It's a little bitter for me. It's bitter," said Standhardinger, who was scoreless against Russia but came up with crucial offensive rebounds all throughout the contest. "I'm happy that we won two games, but we should have won against Canada, and we should have won against Mongolia."
The Philippines had also dropped their game against Mongolia, 21-17, despite taking an early lead. Against Canada, they trailed 2-9 early, mounted a huge comeback, but faltered in crunch time against the superb shot-making of Canadian guard Michael Linklater.
Though they lost both of those games, Standhardinger is not convinced that they are inferior to Mongolia and Canada.
"I felt like when you play the game you feel better or not better. I honestly felt that we were better," he asserted.
There was, however, one problem. Though they can match their opponents' talent, they had no answer for their experience. The Mongolian and Canadian teams have been playing together for years. Mongolia is, in fact, coming off a second-place finish in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Shenzhen, China just last month.
In contrast, the Philippine team was put together in short notice. The members of the squad were named in late April – Standhardinger, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, and Stanley Pringle. Pogoy revealed that they practiced together only 11 times, and Standhardinger missed more than half of that to rest his balky left knee.
"It was just the lack of experience and that’s why we didn’t win those games," said Standhardinger.
In particular, Standhardinger noted how different the crunch time situation was in 3x3 compared to 5-on-5. That was how the Philippines lost to Mongolia and Canada: both squads knew exactly what plays to run in the final possessions while the Philippines fumbled.
"In 5-on-5, me and Roger know what to do," said Standhardinger. "We gotta give the ball to the best player, then we all contribute, then we sprint to the screen, then shoot a side in the court. In 3x3, it's kind of different, what you gotta do there."
"That's why I think we gotta learn," he added.
Yet for all his frustrations, Standhardinger also emphatically pointed out that their campaign in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup showed exactly how much promise the Philippine team had.
Despite practicing together just 11 times, they beat Brazil and Russia, which were seeded sixth and third in the tournament, respectively. They lost by just one point to a veteran Canadian team, and were highly competitive against a very tough Mongolian squad that had already proven itself at the Asian level.
"Let's put it into perspective," said Standhardinger. "We beat the sixth-(seeded) team in the world, which was against Brazil, and we beat the third-ranked team in the world (Russia), and this is our first tournament."
"If this is not clear for everybody, how much promise we have as a team for the next tournament with more practices under our belt," he pointed out. "It's obvious to see how much promise is there – practicing 11 times and competing unexperienced, but we beat the No. 6 ranked team, beating the No. 3 in the world by a high margin."
Thus, Standhardinger could not help but be excited for what the future holds for the Philippine 3x3 team – assuming that the program gets to continue.
"I think we showed great promise here, and I hope we can stick together," said the San Miguel Beer big man, noting that both Rosario and Pogoy were "made for 3x3," while Pringle was virtually unstoppable in the game.
"I hope that all of the organizations involved will give us the opportunity to stick together and I think we showed great promise," he said. "So I think we have a great team."
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