Apart from being a basketball player, former PBA player Mark Andaya has also tried his hand in acting. At one point, he even appeared in an Erik Matti film.
This is why after his team, the Valenzuela Classic, drubbed the Bataan Defenders in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League at Valenzuela Astrodome on Thursday, fans swarmed him for a chance to take selfies with the “Big Mac.”
The gentle giant from Colegio de San Juan de Letran, who played for 5 teams and 6 seasons in the PBA, stood out from the scrum and was just grateful for the attention he’s getting.
“You have to be humble sa attention na nakukuha mo ngayon, kasi hindi naman all the time kilala tayo. Thankful ako kay God, hindi akin 'to,” said Andaya.
Just like PBA legend Benjie Paras, Andaya has grown to love acting that basketball, the sport that helped him get through college, has taken a backseat.
“Ang pagba-basketball sa akin secondary na lang . . . kasi noong natapos na akong mag-PBA biglang binigyan ako ng opportunity maging character actor. So ginagalingan ko sa craft na 'yun kasi mahal na mahal ko na ang pagiging artista,” Andaya said.
So what brought the 36-year-old back to the hardcourt?
“Binigyan ako ng opportunity ng Valenzuela Classic sa MPBL. Sabi ko di na ko makakapaglaro kasi di na ko makakapag-practice, pero binigyan nila ako ng leeway na pwede akong um-absent ng kaunti basta sa laro pumunta ako,” he said.
Andaya said his love for basketball came back because of the new league.
“Nakita ko kasi ang Maharlika tina-touch niya ‘yung grassroots. Kahit ‘yun na mga tao na hindi napapanood ng live ang PBA. Ang PBA kasi Araneta, (Mall of Asia Arena), doon doon lang. Itong Maharlika inaabot nila ang pinakaliblib na lugar so kita n'yo naman mula opening hanggang sa lahat ng narating na venue dinudumog siya,” he said.
“So 'yung dugo ng pagiging basketball player lumalabas na ulit sa kin.”
Andaya came from a poor family and basketball was his ticket to earn a scholarship at Letran.
He made sure to make the most of this opportunity. Not only did he get a college degree, he also steered Letran to an NCAA title in 2005.
“Isa lang ang buhay, so lahat ng opportunity na pwede kong pasukin at ibinibigay sa akin ni Lord gina-grab ko. Dati gusto ko lang maging scholar kasi mahirap lang kami, so ang Letran binigyan ako ng scholarship,” said Andaya.
From then on, more opportunities came his way.
“'Di ko naman akalain na magpi-PBL ako, 'di ko naman akalain magpi-PBA ako, 'di ko akalain mag-ABL, Liga Pilipinas at nag-aartista pa ko,” said Andaya.
Now that he’s playing basketball again, Andaya is determined to become a role model for the younger players.
“The younger ones look up to me. Actually, tinawagan ako ni Willie Miller ang sabi ‘Big Mac, you have to set an example dyan sa Maharlika kasi tinitingala ka d'yan kasi beterano ka ng PBA so magpakita ka ng good example.’ Ayun ang ginagawa ko,” he said.
He added that he also motivates even those who are languishing on the bench.
“Kahit yung mga bangko, dapat lagi silang ready kahit opff the bench ako o hindi pinapakita kong dapat ready ka, always ready,” he said. “Kelangan handa ka sa opportunity.”
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