AFTER another uneventful return to the PBA, journeyman Leo Avenido is once again bound overseas in his bid to rediscover his old, deadly form.
The 2012 ABL MVP was already at the NAIA Terminal 3 on Friday evening waiting for his flight to Ho Chih Minh where he is expected to suit up for ABL side Saigon Heat when Spin.ph caught up with him.
"Wala, di na naman tayo pinalad doon (sa PBA)," said Avenido, who got his release after less than a season spent mostly on the bench at Alaska. "Dito na lang muna ulit ako (sa ABL). Sana may team na na makapansin sa akin."
The Tandang Sora, Quezon City-based dribbler bared that leaving to play overseas is a very hard decision for him considering most of his children with wife Althea Joy are still young.
"Bata pa mga anak ko. Mahirap nga sanang iwan, kaso walang magagawa kailangang magtrabaho ulit kaya OFW na naman tayo," he said while talking fondly about kids Johanne (14), Alicia (13) and Zedinoel (two).
"Kung ako lang talaga masusunod, dito ko gusto sa bansa natin," Avenido added.
But the 34-year-old former Far Eastern University Tamaraw admitted how finding his niche in the PBA proved to be very elusive to him.
The 10th pick overall of the 2002 PBA draft, Avenido rued the misfortune of playing behind the likes of Johnny Abarrientos, Jeffrey Cariaso, Dondon Hontiveros, Mac Cardona, Cyrus Baguio and JV Casio during his time with Coca Cola, Talk 'N Text, Air21 and just recently Alaska.
"Malas, kasi lagi tayo sa puno sa dos (two-guard) na team napupunta," Avenido said. "Sana bago magsara career ko, magka-chance ako na maipakita ang kakayahan ko sa PBA."
In contrast, the sweet-shooting guard has been a hot commodity in the ABL, where he was a star player for the Singapore Slingers and San Miguel Beer-Philippines.
In his MVP year two years ago, Avenido averaged 15 points, 3.71 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game for the Slingers.
He also distinguished himself as one of the ABL's deadliest shooters with an impressive 44.94-percent shooting clip from the field and an impressive 40 percent average from beyond the three-point arc.
The long-delayed opening of the ABL's fifth season is set on July 16, with no Philippine representative in the fold for the first time in the regional league's history after the Beermen's pullout.
Two teams from Indonesia and one each from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam will comprise the six teams playing in the ABL's shortened three-month season.
"Sana makapag-MVP ulit tayo. Kasi sa pamamagitan nun, kahit wala nang Philippine team dito ABL, sa individual title may Pinoy na aangat," he said.
And with his return to the ABL, Avenido hopes to make quite an impression to pave the way for his return to the PBA next season where he hopes to finally get a break with any of the three expansion teams.
He expressed a preference for Kia Motors, being a friend and regular scrimmage teammate of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.
"Break lang talaga siguro ang naging kulang sa akin sa PBA. Sana dumating pa din yung chance ko dun. Kaya dito muna ako sa ABL. Sana may makapansin," said Avenido.