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Cardona rekindles love for basketball

By: Jerome Lagunzad

While most of his younger Zark’s Burgers teammates have already walked their way out of the team’s dugout at the Ynares Sports Arena on one fine Tuesday evening, former pro league star Mac Cardona was left all by his lonesome as he packed his things up.

Perhaps, the 6-foot Cardona, bothered by a troubled past, is relishing every moment back at the comforts of what he considers as a safe haven for the longest time.

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“I’m happy na ma-feel ko ulit ‘yung first love ko which is basketball,” he said after making his much-awaited basketball comeback in the course of the Jawbreakers’ 74-119 loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers in the 2017 PBA D-League Foundation Cup.

“Nawala kasi ‘yung love of the game ko before. Nawalan ako ng gana. Nawala ‘yung passion ko. One year na rin akong hindi nakalaro.”

At 35, his debut performance of 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting on top of three rebounds and two assists against three turnovers in almost 24 minutes of action off the bench in his first competitive basketball in a year should serve nothing less than a big morale booster.

“Feeling ko young nga ako ulit. Kalaban ko kasi mga bata,” he said with a smile. “Napi-feel ko ‘yung respect nila sa akin as a kuya siguro. Hindi nila ako masyadong pinipisikal. Hinahayaan lang nila ako makuha ‘yung flow ng game ko.”

The former La Salle star admitted he’s been craving to see action in the developmental league for quite awhile as he tried to pick up the pieces from what could be a fatal drug overdose attempt stemming from his personal and family problems that left his life in shambles last year.

And he doesn’t mind to got at it against up-and-coming cagers and fellow PBA outcasts despite him being the most decorated as a five-time pro league All-Star, a one-time Finals MVP with TNT and a Best Player of the Conference winner exactly a decade ago.

“Akala siguro nila nagbibiro lang ako at hindi ko talaga papatulan ‘yung D-League. Sabi ko mas gusto ko nga sa D-League muna para makuha ko ‘yung timing ko,” said Cardona, who’s been in constant communication with renowned agent Danny Espiritu in his bid to revive his cage career.

“Sabi nila maliit ang sweldo. Sabi ko nga kahit libre okay lang. Ito ‘yung gagawin kong stepping stone para makabalik ako sa PBA. Basta makuha ko lang ‘yung rhythm ko.”

But more than to get his basketball rhythm back, Cardona is eager to put his life back on the right direction. “Gusto ko na ayusin ‘yung sarili ko. Gusto ko na bumalik sa basketball para maiayos ko ‘yung buhay ko ulit,” he said.

“I made a lot of mistakes sa buhay ko. Pero hindi pa naman too late (para magbago). God gave me a second life, not just a second chance. Binigyan niya ako ng pangalawang buhay para ayusin ko ang buhay ko at makabawi dun sa mga pagkakamali na nagawa ko sa buhay ko.”