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BJ Andrade’s PBA dreams hinge on recovery as draft night approaches

For two days, BJ Andrade was at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City for the 2023 PBA Draft Combine.

For hours, he listened to the speakers in preparation for a possible career in the pros, saw his fellow draftees, and mingled with his batchmates.

However, Andrade was unable to take part in the Combine activities.

The 6-foot guard was still months away from fully recovering from a second ACL tear.

“Honestly, medyo nakaka-down kasi hindi ako makasama sa mga ginagawa ng mga kapwa ko draftees,” the 26-year-old floor general recalled. “Although masaya din ako kasi ang dami kong nakita na magaling mag-basketball na hindi ko kilala.

“Nakapagpakita sila ng gilas. Sayang yung chance na magpakitang gilas din ako, pero wala. Nanood lang ako.”

On February 21, 2023, Andrade was playing in the Pilipinas Super League for Pampanga Royce Hotel against Davao Occidental-Cocolife.

However, just minutes into the game, disaster struck.

Four minutes and 22 seconds into the game, Andrade went for a fast break attempt. As he attempted to leap, he was unable to do so, instead falling to the ground, clutching his left knee.

After just a few days, it was confirmed — he tore his left ACL. It was the second time he had suffered that type of injury, with the first one occurring back in 2020.

Making it more heartbreaking for Andrade was that a few days after the game, he would have signed as a local for Bay Area for the EASL Champions Week.

“Ako, going strong ako kasi napagdaanan ko na rin ito. Been there, done that. Ginagawa ko lang yung recovery ko and I take it seriously,” recalled Andrade, who was born in Hong Kong.

“Day-by-day, just hoping to get better. Just focusing on myself and not focusing on the outside noise. Basta makapag-recover ako and be better, yun lang nasa isip ko.”

Seven months into his recovery, Andrade said that he is only at fifty percent of his optimal form.

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“We are taking our time to reach my optimal performance. Ang goal is makalaro na walang iniisip,” he continued as he is rehabbing at Rehub in Quezon City.

In any given draft — even in a draft as deep as this year’s pool, Andrade would have been a surefire first-round pick.

Now, Andrade is heading into uncertainty just a night before the draft.

“Ako, actually, buong linggo, hindi ako makatulog. Super anxious ako. Eto na yun e, draft. Eto talaga yung pinaghahandaan ko sa buong buhay ko, yung draft. Eto na yung opportunity na hinihintay ko na makapasok ako sa PBA. Excited at the same time, pero most likely anxious,” said Andrade, who is being handled by EOG Management.

“Hindi ko alam kung saan ako mapupunta pero wala tayong control dun. Si God na bahala.”

Still, to whoever takes the risk on him, Andrade vows to give his all.

“Ma-gaguarantee ko is yung bibigay ko ang lahat kasi they took a chance on me kahit injured ako. Kung ano yung laro ko sa Ateneo, mas hihigitan ko pa dahil pros na ito, lahat dito magagaling na,” he shared.

“I just want to be better for myself, my family, and for the team whoever drafts me.”

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