For all the ups and downs the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings have been through in the 2024 Honda PBA Philippine Cup, the one positive constant has been Christian Standhardinger.

Injuries and inconsistency have hounded the Gin Kings for much of the 2024 Philippine Cup campaign but Standhardinger has mostly stayed clear of those. The 2-time PBA All-Star has definitely made the most out of the circumstances afforded to him in the All-Filipino Conference, figuring in the top 10 of a number of statistical categories, the most interesting of which was assists. His average of 5.0 assists per game is easily the best among the league’s big men, but it’s a number that puts him ahead of the likes of Jio Jalalon, Juami Tiongson, and CJ Perez.

Barangay Ginebra is still a team that, in the grand scheme of things, runs through 2021 PBA MVP Scottie Thompson, but he and the Gin Kings have been wise to lean on Standhardinger especially when it has worked for them, just like in Game 5 of the 2024 Philippine Cup Semifinals against the Meralco Bolts.

Depending on which side you’re on, the free throw disparity was either insane or a product of the physical defense on Standhardinger. The Fil-German, who would go on to finish with a game-high 34 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, went to the free throw line 16 times (and made 10 of them), two more than what the Bolts finished with in Game 5. That aside, Standhardinger figured heavily in a critical run for Barangay Ginebra in the fourth quarter and now they’re a win away from the finals.

Standhardinger’s game is by no means pretty, but judging by his four PBA championships, a PBA Finals MVP trophy, and a Best Player of the Conference award, it still gets the job done. He could add to that list of accomplishments before the 2024 Philippine Cup ends, and that could begin with sending Meralco home on Wednesday.

The gameplan will be obvious: Get Standhardinger involved and everyone will follow suit. LA Tenorio and Stanley Pringle can get their points when the defense collapses on Standhardinger. Thompson may be struggling with his shot, but Standhardinger’s activity helps him run the offense and keep the ball moving. Moreover, Standhardinger draws the defense enough to let Japeth Aguilar turn back the clock and put up a poster.

With a spot in the 2024 Honda PBA Philippine Cup Finals on the line, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings shouldn’t veer away from putting their faith in Christian Standhardinger. It’s allowed them to thrive in spite of their stars’ struggles and when they find their form, it will only make them a dangerous team moving forward.