NINE years after his UAAP career came to an end, former La Salle Green Archer Peejay Barua has finally made his PBA D-League debut by suiting up for AMA Online Education in the Aspirants Cup.
The 29-year-old Barua was part of the 2007 La Salle team that won the UAAP championship under head coach Franz Pumaren, where he teamed up with the likes of JVee Casio, TY Tang, and Rico Maierhofer, who have all made it to the PBA.
Barua, however, was not as fortunate although he spent a few more years in the amateur league playing for Cobra and Harbour Centre in the defunct Philippine Basketball League.
When the PBL closed shop in 2011, Barua’s basketball career was shelved as he decided to work for Maynilad.
“Nag-Maynilad ako tapos biglang nagka-D-League. Nasa isip ko, kapapasok ko lang ng Maynilad, siyempre, nakakahiya naman mag-resign,” said Barua.
Despite working full-time for Maynilad as a zone specialist, Barua continued to play in smaller leagues to keep himself in shape. But the competitive fire kept burning, which pushed him to give his playing career another shot through the D-League.
Fortunately, Barua was drafted by AMA in the recent draft of the PBA D-League. Even better, the developmental league raised the age limit for applicants from 28 to 30, making Barua eligible.
“Wala akong experience sa PBA D-League, hindi ako puwede. This time, after three years, nag-decide ako na magpa-draft. Binigyan nila uli ako ng chance,” Barua said.
Incidentally, he is teammates with Jeron Teng, a former Green Archer himself who has won titles in 2013 and 2016 in the UAAP, long after Barua's stint with La Salle ended.
But Barua, who still works for Maynilad after the company allowed him to work and play at the same time, noted that he’s not too keen on joining his former La Salle teammates in the pros, saying he's satisfied to be back playing against top competition.
“Hindi ko naman iniisip na mag-PBA. As a player, gusto ko lang maglaro. Si coach Mark (Herrera), naisip siguro na makakatulong pa ako,” said Barua.
“Happy lang ako na nakabalik uli,” he added.