“PATAY. Aray. Paano kaya yan?”
These were the first words that came out of 2012 ABL MVP Leo Avenido’s mouth upon hearing the news that his mother ballclub, San Miguel Beer-Philippines, is weighing a pullout from the regional league.
“Totoo kaya yan?” Avenido asked. “Kung mangyayari yan, syempre mapu-pwersa na naman tayong maghanap ng trabaho.”
An underrated off-guard picked 10th overall by Coca-cola in the 2002 PBA draft, Avenido found his niche in the ABL where he averaged 14.86 points, 3.71 rebounds and 1.9 assists in stints with the Brunei Barracudas, Singapore Slingers and San Miguel Beer.
Before Avenido moved to San Miguel in 2011, the Slingers and a handful of ABL teams were keenly courting the services of the deadly three pointer shooter.
“Syempre pinili ko Pilipinas. Yun ang bansa ko eh. Kaya nung inaya ako ng San Miguel, tinalukuran ko yung iba. Alangan naman…” said the Tandang Sora, Quezon City native.
Now Avenido is understandably worried that he and his teammates will end up without a ballclub when the regional league opens a new season in January.
(For full story, see Major setback for ABL as champions San Miguel Beermen on the way out)
“Sasamahan ko na lang ng dasal ang lahat. Dun naman tayo kumukuha ng lakas at swerte simula noon eh,” said Avenido, father to three kids aged 13, 12 and 2 years old.
“Yun ang isa pang sakit ng ulo. Ang pang dede,” Avenido added with a laugh.
Asked if he is open to return to the PBA, the 34-year streak shooter nodded: “Syempre PBA 'yan. Kung may oportunidad ba. Hindi naman natin napapahiya mga teams na pinaglaruan natin.”
Aside from Coca-cola, the journeyman Avenido also played for Talk 'N Text, Ai21 and Barako Bull in a span of nine seasons, logging an average of 3.96 points and 1.97 rebounds in 11 minutes playing second fiddle to marquee shooting guards like Willie Miller, Cyrus Baguio, Ronald Tubid, and Gary David.
“Yun lang ang naging kulang natin sa PBA, break. Kung may chance bumalik, kahit third string okay ako,” declared the former Far Eastern University Tamaraws star.
More than worrying about himself, the veteran Avenido is also concerned over the fate of his San Miguel teammates.
“Kung pwede nga lang ako na ang mag-agent sa mga kakampi ko para maihanap ng team, ginawa ko na. Kaso ako nga sarili ko lang kaladkad-kalakad ko rin,” said Avenido.