After a pleasantly surprising 5th-place finish by the hastily-formed Team Pilipinas in the Asian Games, the players are now back with their mother clubs and are trying to adjust on the fly with the 2018 PBA Governor’s Cup well underway.
How have each of the players who have already played fared since their return?
One of the fastest-rising bigmen in the country, JP Erram hasn’t skipped a beat upon his return to the Blackwater Elite. In the three games he has played since returning from the Asian Games, the 6’7 center from the Ateneo de Manila University has averaged 14 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.3 blocks, and 1.3 steals for Blackwater. More importantly, the Elite are now 4-0, their best start to a conference in franchise history.
Erram’s improved overall play has also earned him a regular spot (or at least until the suspended players become eligible again and June Mar Fajardo returns from injury) in coach Yeng Guiao’s FIBA teams. He provides the team with much-needed length and interior defense while also being able to co-exist with the other stars on the team on offense.
For Pringle, a team name change has not helped him escape the same old story that has haunted the NorthPort Batang Pier for most of the franchise’s existence. As has been the case for most of his career, despite Pringle’s individual brilliance (26 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in the two games he has played), the Batang Pier are still struggling to make strides as a team. They are now 0-5 this conference and look poised to miss out on the playoffs once again.
Fortunately for Pringle, his team’s struggles have not hindered his prospects of being considered for Team Pilipinas, even if it’s just as a naturalized player. In his first FIBA game as a member of Team Pilipinas, Pringle helped lead the Philippines to a come from behind victory over Qatar with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. His speed, power, and all-around game give the Philippines another dimension that no one else outside Jayson Castro can provide.
The San Miguel Beermen big man has arguably been the biggest revelation to Filipino basketball fans since the Asian Games. A highly-touted draft pick who underwhelmed in his first conference in the PBA, Standhardinger has now been able to quickly establish himself as one of the best that the Philippines has to offer. He even famously went straight from the airport to the Araneta Coliseum to play for San Miguel barely 24 hours after Team Pilipinas’ last match in the Asian Games in Indonesia. The 6’8 center then proceeded to score a career-high 36 points alongside 11 rebounds while leading the Beermen to a win.
In the three games he has played since the Asian Games, Standhardinger has averaged 25.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1.3 steals per game. It will be interesting to see how coach Leo Austria will adjust his rotations for the loaded Beermen once four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo returns from his injury.
As the other naturalized player candidate considered for Team Pilipinas in the absence of Andray Blatche or Jordan Clarkson, Standhardinger has certainly done his part to show that he is not going to waste the opportunity to represent the flag and country. In the country’s tough loss againt Iran, Standhardinger led the team by recording 30 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals. Standhardinger’s unorthodox moves and his non-stop energy are always a welcome addition to a country that is always looking for contribution from the frontcourt.
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