GERALD Anderson knew exactly what he wanted to be growing up, and it wasn’t to become a famous actor who stars in blockbuster movies, receives millions from endorsement deals and makes girls swoon with his megawatt smile.
“I wanted to be a basketball player,” he said.
Gerald had in fact pursued that ambition with a passion, and was looking to try out for a couple of UAAP teams when a stint in the teen edition of the hit reality show Pinoy Big Brother changed his course in 2006. One thing led to another and before you know it, he has become one of the most bankable stars in the movie industry.
His first love, basketball, has since taken a backseat, but only because – in his own words – showbiz is his means of living.
“Mas malaki kinikita ko dito (sa showbiz) eh,” the 23-year-old celebrity said during a break in a photo shoot he did for Men’s Health magazine. “Syempre passion ko rin ang acting. Sinisingit ko naman ang basketball, kung may time. Pero ang focus ko muna ay ang hanapbuhay ko.
“Hobby na lang muna ang basketball.”
Anderson, though, remains a fixture in exhibition games featuring celebrities and suits up in highly competitive leagues as often as his schedule would allow – his way, Gerald said, of reconnecting with a sport that had taught him to dream big as a teen.
Gerald is actually a latebloomer in the sport, having picked it up only in his teen years while studying at Jarett Middle School in Missouri. Naturally athletic, he became so good at it that by the time his family moved to General Santos City he easily made the Holy Trinity College varsity team.
Gerald won two championships and an MVP trophy while leading the team in high school leagues around Region XII, gaining enough confidence to entertain hopes of taking his act to Manila and giving UAAP basketball a serious shot.
“Gusto ko rin sana makapasok dati sa UAAP kasi may chance ulit ako makapag-aral,” revealed Anderson, who has yet to receive a college education.
He never got that chance since fate led him in another direction, but it was his newfound fame that led to his biggest break in basketball. His working schedule light after wrapping up work on a movie with Sarah Geronimo, Anderson got the chance to try out for a spot on the NLEX team in the PBA D-League with the help of player agent-friend Charlie Dy in March last year.
“Mainit pa yung passion ko para mag-basketball eh,” Anderson said. “Kahit nag-aartista na ako, sinubukan ko lang. Kakatapos lang din ng movie namin ‘nun kaya medyo free 'yung oras ko.”
For three days, the 5-foot-10 guard held his own against some of the most promising players in the developmental league and at the same time forged friendships with NLEX mainstays like Fil-Ams Chris Ellis and Cliff Hodge. He also impressed NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez enough to be offered a spot in the team.
“Basta ginagawa ko lang naman kung anong pwede kong gawin para matulungan yung team,” said Anderson, who lists LeBron James and Allen Iverson as his NBA idols. “Sabi nga nila, puwede ako maglaro sa kanila kasi kulang rin sila ‘nun.”
Conflicts in schedule kept Anderson from accepting the offer, but the experience is something the movie star would not easily forget.
“Kahit papano, nararamdaman ko naman yung pangarap na ‘yun na nagkakatotoo,” Anderson said.