LA Revilla, the face of KIA Picanto, will be playing for Phoenix Fuel Masters when the 43rd Season of the PBA kicks off on Dec. 17.
In another “unconventional” move, the KIA management decided to let go of their team captain and go-to guy in exchange for Phoenix second round No. 21 draft pick Jayson Grimaldo and a 2018 second-round draft pick.
KIA board of governor Bobby Rosales confirmed the trade on Wednesday morning, according to PBA press corps president and Spin.ph’s Gerry Ramos, who is in Los Angeles with a number of team governors for the league’s annual season planning.
With Revilla gone, the Kia team roster is now left with a bunch of largely unknown role players and the three bench players it got from San Miguel Beer—Ronald Tubid, JR Reyes, and Rashawn McCarthy—in exchange for top draft pick Christian Standhardinger.
KIA earlier dropped five players from its roster—Nico Salva, Jason Ballesteros, Nico Elorde, Jason Deutchman, and Josan Nimes.
Sources say Salva has been picked up by Meralco while Elorde is now with GlobalPort.
KIA team manager Joe Lipa earlier defended KIA’s moves, saying the franchise’s “unconventional mentality” is based on its objective of giving “hungry young players a chance to prove themselves in our team.”
He explained that to the team, the players’ desire to win is more important than sheer talent. “It may not be the conventional type of basketball people are expecting, but look at it as our little contribution and give us a chance to do something different,” Lipa said.
The 27-year-old Revilla, a former La Salle gunner, was the last player from the original KIA roster that debuted in the 2014-15 season together with the Blackwater Elite. He still had two years left on his contract with KIA.
Revilla incurred the ire of KIA management when he tweeted his disgust over KIA’s move to trade away the rights to Standhardinger to San Miguel Beer. In an Oct. 27 post on his Twitter account (@wilLaREVILLAme), which has since been deleted, Revilla wrote: “Kung magpapalusot man lang sana ginandahan niyo na ang rason. Hindi talaga eh. Bagsak kayo sigurado kung may lie detector.”
Revilla later received word from management that he should no longer attend the team’s training camp when it opened last week as he has been put on the trading block.
Rosales admitted that the KIA management was hurt by Revilla’s tweet, which suggested deceit on the part of management.
The KIA official said Revilla later apologized to management for his act but that the damage has been done.
Phoenix is welcoming Revilla with open arms. New coach Louie Alas said Revilla is just what the team needs to complete his three-man backcourt rotation, with RJ Jazul and Gelo Alolino as the team’s two other point guards.
Revilla played in eight games for KIA in the just concluded Governors’ Cup, averaging 6.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. He is part of the current 24-man Gilas roster. Last season, he was named to the PBA All-Star team.