LEO AVENIDO will trade away his Most Valuable Player award last year for an Asean Basketball League championship without hesitation.
Even if it meant sacrificing his scoring.
As the Beermen’s go-to-guy last season, Avenido lit up the scoreboard for the team, leading the league in offense with an average of 14.9 points to beat out Al Vergara of the Philippine Patriots and Mario Wuysang of the Indonesia Warriors for the coveted individual award.
Unfortunately, his feat failed to translate into a championship for San Miguel as the Beermen were beaten by the Warriors in the decisive Game Three of the Finals.
But with San Miguel retooling heavily in the offseason, Avenido is expected to be spared from some of the load not just in scoring but also in other aspects of his game.
“Naiintindihan niya. He’d rather win a championship than the MVP trophy,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria.
The former Far Eastern University star said all of these are in line with what he wants to achieve together with the team - win a championship this season.
“Nag-usap kami ni coach na ‘yung MVP, ipagpapalit ko ‘yun sa championship,” said Avenido. “Championship ‘yung pipiliin ko kasi team ‘yun.”
Austria said the addition of high-quality imports Brian Williams and Gabe Freeman, PBA veterans Asi Taulava and Eric Menk, and the continued improvement of star point guard Chris Banchero, means Avenido no longer needs to carry the team all by himself.
Austria said he wants the reigning MVP to focus more on his outside shooting, especially since he expects the defense to likely center on the Beermen’s two imports.
”Gusto ko ma-define `yung role niya kasi last year kahit ano pwede niyang gawin. But because of ‘yung outside shooting niya, siya ang pinaka-deadly sa amin lalo na dahil sa mga imports namin,” Austria said.
In San Miguel’s opening game against Indonesia, Avenido noticeably was given the green light to shoot. He finished with 10 points but only went 3-of-12 from the field, including a 1-of-5 clip from behind the arc.
But he did remain a factor in other aspects of the game as he contributed seven rebounds and two steals.
Austria however, remained confident Avenido will recover from that poor season debut.
“I told him be ready to take the shot every time, hindi mo na kailangan maging all-around,” he added.