MARK Andaya said his stints in two separate basketball leagues have revived his passion for the sport after his foray into acting.
The 36-year-old Andaya is currently playing for the Valenzuela Classic in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) as well as AMA Online Education in the PBA D-League.
”Sobrang nakakapagod and at the same time, pressure,” said Andaya on Thursday after he finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks in AMA’s loss to Centro Escolar University in the PBA D-League.
Prior to his foray into showbiz, Andaya saw action in the PBA from 2006 to 2012 playing for various teams such as TNT, Air21, Red Bull, Rain or Shine, and Barako Bull.
Andaya admitted he had already retired from basketball after his showbiz career flourished, until a Valenzuela team official called to ask if he's interested to play again.
At first, he was hesitant since he was already busy with his acting gigs.
“Nung una, di ba nag-aartista na ako full time, kinalimutan ko na ‘yung basketball. ‘Yung MPBL, ‘yung boss doon, tinawagan ako kung puwede ako maglaro. Sabi ko hindi ako puwedeng maglaro kasi M-W-F, taping ako.
“Sabi niya, ‘Hindi kahit isang beses isang linggo ka lang mag-practice.’ Laro ka lang. Sige subukan natin,” said the 6-foot-9 Andaya.
To his surprise, the former Letran Knight said playing for Valenzuela rekindled his passion for the sport. AMA soon came calling to ask if he is interested to play for the Titans in the PBA D-League.
“Kapag pinawisan ka, bumabalik ‘yung sarap ng laro eh. At the same time, tumawag ‘yung AMA, sabi ko, ganun uli, hindi ko kaya mag-practice. Sabi nila, pakita ka lang,” said Andaya.
Andaya said his routine these days is not easy, juggling his acting and basketball duties. He also tries to sleep, eat, and work out as much as possible in between tapings.
“Nagbebenta ka ba ng tulog? Kasi bumibili ako eh,” said Andaya in jest.
“As much as possible, natutulog ako kapag free time, kung may free time. Katulad ngayon, apat na oras tulog ko galing taping. Five-o-clock na ako nakauwi. Tulog agad ako, eat ng marami maya’t maya. Wala na akong oras sa breakfast, lunch, dinner. Talagang maya’t maya.
“Bago mag-practice, nagwo-work out ako para sa conditioning. At the same timte, kapag nagte-taping ako, pag may mga gap kami, natutulog ako. Meron akong hospital bed. Natutulog ako, nakaupo ako kasi mindset ko, maglalaro pa ako,” Andaya said.
Even though he is already into acting, Andaya added he is grateful to the people who still believe that he can still play basketball.
“Mahal na mahal ko na ’yung pagiging artista. Eto na ‘yung mahal ko pero at the same time, may mga responsibility ako sa managers at mga naniniwala sa akin. Sa Valenzuela at AMA, maraming naniniwala sa akin na kailangan mag-perform ako ng maayos,” said Andaya.
Since returning to basketball, Andaya said he is getting attention not only as an actor but as a player.
“Nakilala kasi ako na bangko sa PBA. Practical lang ako na tao na all career ko, bangko ako sa PBA. Pero kapag nasa mall ako, nakikilala na ako na, ‘Ang galing mo pala mag-basketball.’ Nakakataba ng puso na ‘yung PBA D-League at MPBL gave me another good feeling for myself na na-vindicate ‘yung pagiging basketball player na Mark Andaya was and is a basketball player,” said Andaya.
Asked if he is willing to accept playing offers again in the next conferences, Andaya hopes to be still healthy to suit up once again. At the end of the day, basketball still runs in Andaya’s blood.
“Hindi ko na yata kaya. Mahirap. Pero God-willing, sinasamahan ko rin ng dasal na kaya ko pa. Ang secret diyan naiintindihan ‘yung sitwasyon ko. Kung mararapatin and I’m going to stay healthy, gagawin ko pa rin ito. Gusto ko makilala ako ng mga tao na hardworker sa buhay,” said Andaya.
”First love never dies talaga,” he added.