In 2008, the DLSU Green Archers were the defending UAAP champions and came into the season led by the veteran duo of JVee Casio and Rico Maeirhofer. The team made it all the way to the finals, but lost and failed to defend their crown against the ADMU Blue Eagles, signalling the beginning of the Blue-and-White five-peat era.
That was the first year that LA Revilla, a diminutive 19-year-old guard out of San Beda high school, suited up for the Green Archers. He was primarily one of the relievers of Casio, though they occasionally shared time in the backcourt.
The speed, hustle and spunk of the young Revilla made him a fan favorite, and by the end of the season he was named a member of the league’s All-Rookie team. The future indeed seemed bright for the Green Archers with this young guard set to take over the playmaking duties from the graduating Casio.
His fortunes took an unlikely turn though as he was diagnosed with diabetes and hyperthyroidism which forced him to miss the next two seasons along with various injuries. He would bide his time playing in the Father Martin Cup with the development team and made a comeback in 2011, making his return known by scoring 22 points–15 coming in the second half–in a close loss to defending champion Ateneo in the first round. He finished UAAP Season 74 with averages of 7.7 points, 3.7 assists and a league-leading 1.8 steals per game, but DLSU failed to qualify for the Final Four for the second time in three seasons.
The next year, Revilla would come on strong, highlighted by 19 points in a double overtime loss to UST in the first round, but things would then take a turn for the worse. Against the NU Bulldogs in the first round finale, Revilla would tweak his ankle in a double overtime victory after masterfully orchestrating the offense for the Green Archers down the stretch. He would still finish the eliminations with averages of 8.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and three assists, but he was only able to suit up for nine out of the 14 regular season games as rookie Thomas Torres stepped into his role as the primary point guard.
Coming into the 2013 season, many began to discount Revilla’s role with the team. He was almost invisible in the Green Archers’ preseason run and though he started the team’s first game in UAAP Season 76, he settled into a role coming off the bench behind Torres for the rest of the first round. Revilla found himself with averages of just 2.2 points and two assists after the first round while the Green Archers stumbled out of the gates with a 3-4 win-loss record.
With their season in jeopardy, head coach Juno Sauler would turn to his most veteran player to lead the team on the court once more. As the team was crumbling, the Green Archers looked to the last remnant of the teams led by the exalted Casio. A plethora of reasons would sideline Torres at the start of the second round, and Revilla would regain his starting spot.
Much like his predecessor Casio during his heyday, Revilla saved the Green Archers down the stretch in his first game back as a starter. He knocked down a corner three that gave DLSU a two point lead over the AdU Soaring Falcons with less than a minute left. Though the game went into overtime, La Salle emerged victorious, overcoming their tendency to lose leads late in the fourth quarter, even for at least one game.
Revilla would then go on to start every remaining game for Sauler and things began to fall in place as the Green Archers began to rack up crucial victories enroute to sweeping the second round.
The steadying presence of Revilla went beyond his meager statistical averages of 4.3 points and 2.5 assists per game. When the occasion called for it though, Revilla was ready to to be an offensive spark plug for La Salle once again, even for just one afternoon. Though his fearless and athletic drives to the basket are no longer commonplace, Revilla torched FEU in their battle for second place in an unlikely and unexpected manner.
LA for three
A few minutes into the game, he would make a three to give the team their first taste of the lead at 5-2 and they would not relinquish it from that point on. Midway through the second quarter, he would make his second triple of the game then he made another with less than two minutes left before halftime to bring the lead up to eight, 33-25. It was already a season-high in terms of three pointers made for Revilla as most of his points this season have come from floaters and free throws.
He refused to cool down after halftime and he would make two straight threes, igniting a 14-4 run that gave the Green Archers a 15 point lead, 53-38, late in the third quarter. At that point, Revilla had hit his last five three pointers after missing his first attempt.
With less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, he would ice the game with his sixth three pointer of the match to extend the DLSU lead to eight. The starting guard would finish the game with 20 points, highlighted by six of 11 shooting from three. It was easily the best game of the season thus far for Revilla, who has managed to bounce back from all of his setbacks to bring La Salle within a win of the UAAP finals, a place he has not been to since his rookie year in 2008.
“I was blessed lang kasi luckily binigay sa akin yung mga open shots and I took the chances and they went in,” shared the soft-spoken Revilla after the game.
As a matter of fact, he is the only member of the roster who has seen action in the league’s finals. Through all the ups and downs, this La Salle team seems to have regained the confidence and swagger that made the Green Archers so deadly over the past decades, a culture that Revilla experienced firsthand as a rookie.
No longer a youthful back-up, he now takes the role of a veteran leader for this up-and-coming squad. Despite the increasing pressure and intensity of each game though, Revilla remains grounded as the leader of this team. Actually, he does not even consider this the best game of his career, lightly sharing afterwards, “Hindi kasi meron pang iba sa inter-barangay.”