La Salle's returning guard LA Revilla talks to PinoyExchange.com about his struggles with diabetes, his stellar performance in Season 74, and his dream for the Green Archers.
LA Revilla: La Salle’s Comeback Kid is a Survivor
Photos and Text By: Ivan Angelo L. de Lara
Latest statistics show that around four million Filipinos have diabetes. This disease may result in organ damage and failure, and even death. Depressing? Not for De La Salle University Green Archers’ Luis Alfonso “LA” Revilla.
In summer of 2009, a few months before the opening of the 72nd Season of the UAAP, Revilla was diagnosed to have Diabetes-2, a condition, which he said, runs in their family. This has prevented the former San Beda Red Cubs hotshot from suiting up for La Salle in that season.
“I was upset and surprised at first,” Revilla told PinoyExchange.com. “After that, I was hoping that it would not affect my career. But then the doctor decided that I could not play during the UAAP.”
Revilla, however, did not sulk for long. Even if he was not included in the Green Archers’ Team A, he continued practicing with them under Coach Dindo Pumaren. Slowly but surely, he was becoming healthier and regaining his confidence.
“I knew that I was coming back,” Revilla said. “I felt that I was on the right shape. I knew that I could compete.”
True enough, Revilla was given clearance by his doctor after his laboratory tests showed marked improvement in his health.
In his rookie season, the Bacolod native averaged 3.53 points, 1.65 rebounds, 1.94 assists, and 0.65 steals on 14.29 minutes per game. He was just a backup guard then to the more established JV Casio and his senior Simon Atkins.
Two years later, Revilla announced his comeback to the league with a bang. Although La Salle succumbed to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, Revilla, who has earned his way into becoming a starter, dished out 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
He proved that his comeback performance was not a fluke when he made 22 points, five rebounds, three steals, and two assists in a loss against the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles. His gutsy play has earned even the respect of the fans of his team’s bitter rivals.
La Salle has since chalked up back-to-back wins against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and the National University Bulldogs. The 21-year-old AB Psychology student played pivotal roles in both victories.
In La Salle’s first four games, Revilla has established himself as the star player of his team and as one of the most explosive guards in the UAAP this season. He is currently averaging 16.33 points, 5.67 rebounds, 4.67 assists, and two steals on 28.33 minutes of playing time per game.
Smallest guy, biggest heart
Although he works like an Energizer bunny on the court, Revilla admits that he has experienced dizziness and sluggishness due to his condition. These glitches, however, have never stopped him from giving his best during practices and games, thanks to the assistance of his teammates.
“They’re very supportive. They’re very caring. They’re aware of what I eat, and what I do,” said Revilla, who singled out Maui Villanueva, Joshua Webb, and Norbert Torres as the players he is closest with.
Atkins, now La Salle's captain, describes best how big the 5’8” point guard has been playing for the green-and-white team.
“LA is a big factor to the team. He can do everything,” Atkins told PinoyExchange.com. “He is the shortest guy in the team, but he has the biggest heart.”
“Despite his condition, he gives his all. He is my inspiration to push myself more,” Atkins added.
With his stellar performance this season, Revilla hopes to bring La Salle back to its former glory.
“My goal is to really win a championship,” Revilla said. “Before coming to La Salle, ‘yun na talaga ‘yung dream ko.”
Not a hindrance
Revilla couples his lofty ambition with a grain of caution. Right now, he says he is just happy to be back and looks at his career “one playing year at a time”.
“I am very happy right now,” Revilla said. “It is one of the happiest moments of my life. It is a feeling that I am gonna cherish for the rest of my life.”
Revilla is a survivor because he plays as if he never had a two-year layoff. He is a survivor because he dons the green-and-white uniform proudly as if he does not have a life-threatening condition.
He proves that a disease like diabetes is not an obstacle for him to achieve his goals or for others to accomplish theirs.
“I think it (diabetes) adds up to my motivation, especially overcoming it,” Revilla said. “It’s a relief na I can finally play. At first it was a hindrance. But then I started to realize, it wasn’t pala.”