AFTER LA Revilla's heroics in KIA's debut in the PBA on Sunday, no one is perhaps prouder than National University coach Eric Altamirano.
What's the connection, you might ask.
Unknown to many, it was Altamirano who brought Revilla from Bacolod to Manila around 10 years ago. The former De La Salle star guard has since stayed in the Altamirano home and considers the coach his second father.
No wonder the veteran coach who had just led NU to its first UAAP championship in six decades was once again on a high on Sunday night after watching Revilla score a career-high 23 points in KIA's 80-66 win over fellow expansion side Blackwater at the Philippine Arena.
Sunday's performance came as a vindication for the 5-8 Revilla, who left La Salle a year early to turn pro only to see action in three games - and a grand total of 23 minutes - while playing behind the likes of Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, and Sol Mercado at GlobalPort last season.
Worse, the heady guard soon found himself out of the PBA after he was cut by GlobalPort at the end of one conference.
“Sabi ko kay LA, that’s (being cut by GlobalPort) a test for you. Now you have to persevere in order for you to make it back to the PBA,” Altamirano told Spin.ph on Monday, recalling his heart-to-heart talk with his 'son.'
The veteran coach also became Revilla's biggest supporter during those trying months when the former Archer swallowed his pride and returned to the D-League by way of the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, in the hope of earning another call-up to the pro league.
“I told LA, he just has to hone his skills and be prepared for a possible call-up, so kailangang magpa-kundisyon siya on his own and undergo skills training,” he said.
The big break came when the PBA accepted two expansion teams prior to the new season, and Altamirano recalled with pride how Revilla persevered for months without a salary in KIA tryouts.
Revilla soon found himself signed to a one-year deal by KIA.
“LA tried out at Kia for a couple of months kahit na walang suweldo and they (Kia management) like him because of his attitude. Kaya yung first game niya (this season) was very impressive,” said the two-time PBA champion coach.
After what Revilla had gone through, there's no doubt in Altamirano's mind that his ward is in the PBA to stay.
“I’m sure he can make it,” he said.