AS an opportunity for a comeback in the PBA beckons following the entry of three expansion teams, journeyman Mark 'Big Mac' Andaya has expressed his willingness to turn his back on a fledgling showbiz career to give a basketball career another shot.
The 6-foot-9 big man out of Letran had a forgettable career in the pro ranks since being picked at No. 8 overall by Talk 'N Text in the 2006 PBA rookie draft, hopping from the Texters to Air21 to Barako Bull to Rain or Shine then back to Barako Bull without making an impact.
Since his last PBA stint with Barako in 2012, Andaya has taken his act to 'larong labas' leagues while appearing in movies and television shows on the side, getting his biggest break with a role in the much-acclaimed film On The Job starring Gerald Anderson and Piolo Pascual.
Andaya has also recently been signed to a 10-year managerial contract by Star Factor promotions outfit of Dondon Montiverde, the same man who manages the careers of James Yap and the Teng brothers.
Still, the former Knights standout said he is willing to forego all that for another shot at PBA stardom.
“Gusto ko talagang bumalik sa PBA. Yan ang buhay ko, basketball,” said Andaya when Spin.ph caught up with him on Friday working out in a gym. “Naka-antay sa akin ang showbiz, pero mas gusto ko talaga ang basketball.
"Mas priority ko ang basketball, love of the game yan ang akin,” he added.
And the 33-year-old center knows there’s no better chance for him to make a PBA comeback than now as three expansion teams are set to make their debut in the pro league beginning next season.
"Magandang development 'yun. Ako personally, hindi ko ini-expect na magkakaroon ng tatlong teams," he said. "Pero dahil tatlo yan, 42 opportunities (for players) 'yan.
"Mabait talaga si Lord. Hindi ako nawawalan ng pagasa, lagi akong postivie thinking."
If he does make a PBA comeback, Andaya has vowed to be better than ever before, saying lessons he learned from his past mistakes as well as years of toughening in small leagues around the country have made him a better player.
“Dati talaga, alam ko immature ako, madaling mawala sa focus,” he said. “Siguro sa mga coaches, may mga nakita sila sa ibang players na wala ako. Dati rin kasi tamad ako, madali akong ma-frustrate. Immature ako dati.
“Ngayon, mas maganda ang mindset ko ngayon. Gusto ko talagang bumalik. Gusto kong pagbutihin. Andami kong pinagdaanan. I learned my lesson the hard way,” he added.
One-off appearances in small leagues, however, have also given him a reality check that Andaya said he couldn't help but ask himself: I'm 6-foot-9, what am I doing in this small leagues?
“Naisip ko 6-9 ako, ang laki ko. Masipag maglaro, second dati sa blocks (sa PBA) nung Barako Bull pa ko, pero bakit nandito lang ako sa ligang labas? Wala ako sa PBA?” he said. “Yun nga tinatanong ko sa sarili ko!
“Tinanong ko lahat sa sarili ko yun. Kuntento na lang ba ako dito?”
Andaya insisted the monetary aspect of being in the PBA will not be the primary motivation in his comeback. He said he earns more in showbiz and is paid at least P8,000 per game in small leagues. He also owns the Blue Dragon Water Station in Vito Cruz, Manila.
“Mas malaki at mas mabilis ang pera sa artista, pero for the love of the game. PBA ako. Basketball ako,” said Andaya, vowing to give a comeback in the pro league his best shot. “Kaya ginagawa ko, mas nagpursige ako, nag-gym ako. Mas hinasa ko laro ko at mas naging mature ako.
"Basta ibibigay ko yung best ko kung makakabalik. Para at the end of it, wala akong regret."