MANILA, Philippines – Arguably the most talented team in the PBA, San Miguel Beer got even better on Sunday when they added Filipino-German big Christian Standhardinger through the PBA Rookie Draft.
A controversial deal saw the Beermen, champions of two of the three conferences last season, secure the No. 1 pick from Kia -- and they made the most of it by taking the 6-foot-8 Standhardinger.
"As a coach, you have to get the best available talent in the draft, which is Christian Standhardinger," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria in an interview with ESPN 5.
Adding Standhardinger – a mobile big man who rebounds well and can shoot from midrange – gives San Miguel a truly fearsome frontline. Other coaches are likely already wondering how they can stop the twin-tower combination of Standhardinger and reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, who welcomed their rookie with open arms on Draft Day.
Consider that San Miguel still have Mythical Team members Arwind Santos, Chris Ross, and Alex Cabagnot, as well as the league's premier sharpshooter in Marcio Lassiter, and it's clear that the Beermen have put together one of the most talented rosters in recent memory.
"We can do so many things with Standhardinger," said Austria. "He can play the 4 and the 5, and he's a good reliever for June Mar. It's a good team-up with June Mar."
The caveat, of course, is that Austria will not get to see that Standhardinger teamup with Fajardo – a tandem that fans have already dubbed "Fajardinger" – until the 2018 Governors' Cup. The Fil-German still has to fulfill his contract obligations to Hong Kong Eastern in the ASEAN Basketball League.
The moment he comes in, however, Standhardinger is sure to make an impact for San Miguel. Filipino fans saw how he gobbled up rebounds while playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup and the Southeast Asian Games, and how well he ran the floor in transition.
Having the Fil-German in their roster gives SMB a wealth of options on how to mix and match their line-up, and perhaps, provides them with the missing piece for their much-desired Grand Slam.
"I've got a good privilege with them," Austria beamed, referring to the prospect of coaching both Fajardo and Standhardinger.
Standhardinger, for his part, is well aware that he joins a team that is already an established powerhouse.
"They're pretty good already," he said, in an understatement.
"I'm going to do my best in rebounding, like you saw me playing for Gilas," he added in his post-draft interview. "I think if I give my all, I can also help to make the team maybe a little bit better."
Much like Austria, Standhardinger is also looking forward to teaming up with Fajardo. They did not get to play together in the FIBA Asia Cup, as Fajardo was injured, but Standhardinger anticipates a smooth partnership with the "Kraken."
"I'm very excited about playing with June Mar," he said. "It's an honor, and a great thing that I can play with the four-time returning MVP."
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