THE CHALLENGES OF LA REVILLA
LA Revilla waxed excited about KIA Carnival’s 95-84 win over Purefoods last week. The victory saw some sports analysts hang the tag of “giant killer” to the first year club after it earlier dealt San Miguel an 88-78 defeat.
“Sana ngayon, bigyan din kami ng ibang team ng konting respeto,” said the sophomore point guard albeit in subdued and respectful tones.
Revilla can’t get too excited despite his team being at 2-4 and slightly ahead of underachieving San Miguel and NLEX and expansion team, Blackwater. After all, he’s experienced success and looked to go on a roll only to have the opportunity snatched away from him.
After a sterling rookie year with the La Salle Green Archers in the UAAP, he was diagnosed with diabetes that sidelined him for two years. For a young player who had dreams of making it big in the sport, sitting it out and not knowing when he could play again crushed his confidence. “I was what – 19 years old at that time pero instead of looking to the future naging day-to-day. Hindi ko alam kung kelan ako makakalaro.”
Even when he did get back two years later and in terrific form, his health went south again and his game tapered off in the second round. “Matuto ka not to take things for granted,” he related. “Humbling talaga.”
However, during Season 76, Revilla and the Green Archers were able to put it together to win the UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship.
The next stop – the PBA.
Only not in the manner Revilla thought it would take.
Twenty-three names were called before his was announced by PBA Commissioner Chito Salud. Barangay Ginebra selected him 24th overall but the pick was traded to GlobalPort. There Revilla was one of five rookies who included FEU Tamaraws Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, Ateneo’s Nico Salva who was his teammate in high school at San Beda, and Manuel L. Quezon University’s Jopher Custodio.
In a team struggling to find its form in the PBA and with players all looking to earn their mark aside from fighting for a contract, Revilla hardly got any playing time. He played less than seven minutes in the few matches he played in where he averaged a poor 0.67 points, 1.33 rebounds, and 0.67 assists.
Not soon after, he was dropped to the D-League. “Naging down ako. Humbling experience talaga – mula sa draft, hindi makalaro sa PBA tapos na-demote sa D-League (with the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns),” said Revilla of the experience. He paused for a while clearly still hurt by the experience and measuring his words. “Tinignan ko na lang sa ibang perspective. Hindi nga naman ako nag-D-League. So doon muna. Magpakita ng gilas at baka sakali may pumansin na PBA team.”
When tryouts were called for the expansion club KIA, Revilla tried out and made the line-up. In his first game for the club during the 2015 season opener at the Philippine Arena, he scored 23 points to help his new team win its first game in PBA history and made for a successful debut for Manny Pacquiao as coach for KIA.
“Playing for Manny is unbelievable,” gushed Revilla. “Hindi naman puro strategy and tactics yan. Medyo alam mo na yan. Malaking bagay kung makapagbigay siya ng kumpiyansa sa amin lahat. Nasasanay na rin ako kapag tumitingin sa kabilang dulo ng bench at nandun yung eight-time world boxing champion sa amin. Masasabi ko rin one day na, ‘I played with Manny Pacquiao.’”
Revilla once more made a splash during the Carnival’s win over Purefoods as he sparked a rally and a come-from-behind win. He tallied 18 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.
“Sana tuloy tuloy na to ‘to para sa KIA at sa akin,” hoped LA.
While a few observers have said that his performances with KIA will certainly draw the interest of the bigger ballclubs, Revilla will have none of it. If there’s anything that he has learned in the past several years is you can be on top of the world one moment and all the way down in the next. “One at a time,” he quipped. “Day-to-day pa rin pero iba yung perspective.”
What is the difference?
“Mas mataas morale ko ngayon.”
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