Christian Standhardinger, the much-ballyhooed top Draft pick of a year ago, faces his former team for the first time Wednesday, October 23, 2019, as the new face of NorthPort.
And while the pressure on him to play as the messiah for the struggling Batang Pier is there, coach Pido Jarencio just wants him to do one thing: Enjoy the ride.
“I had a heart-to-heart talk with the kid,” Jarencio told the Inquirer over the phone Tuesday, a few minutes after final preparations for their PBA Governors’ Cup game with San Miguel Beer wound up at Greenmeadows gym. “He’ll definitely see a lot of action for us, and I told him to just have fun.”
“And he seems to like the idea,” Jarencio added. “And that’s a good start as far as I am concerned.”
Indeed, it’s easy to expect the national standout to play like a man reborn after finally getting out of the shadow of San Miguel’s reigning five-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo.
Standhardinger was one half of the celebrated trade just two weeks back that sent Mo Tautuaa, another No. 1 pick, to San Miguel.
It is a trade seen by many as one that would benefit both squads—and Jarencio put it that way: “Win-win.”
But Standhardinger comes to a NorthPort crew that is in dire need of a solid true center who can finish around the rim and complement a solid backcourt made up of rookie Robert Bolick and the veteran Sean Anthony.
“We have five games left (in the eliminations), and I told him that we need to win at least four of those,” Jarencio said. “The whole team knows it, and we start that task against San Miguel.”
Michael Qualls will also debut as the new NorthPort import in the 7 p.m. clash with the Beermen, who squeaked past Columbian Sunday in their first game with Tautuaa aboard.
Meanwhile, Blackwater and Rain or Shine, sides that are in the bottom half of the draw, slug it out in the 4:30 p.m. curtain raiser as both try to touch off winning streaks that would enable them to make the playoffs without complications.
Qualls takes over from Mychal Ammons, who helped the Batang Pier to a 2-4 record.
“We need offense from our import,” Jarencio said. “And judging from what I’ve seen from him (Qualls in practice), it seems that we have what we need.”