Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The UE Red Warriors’ Renz Palma: Time to shine

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The UE Red Warriors’ Renz Palma: Time to shine
by rick olivares

“I think that Renz can tap into his full potential and be consistent, he will be a real star.”

In his long and distinguished coaching career, Derrick Pumaren has seen a lot of players come and go. Some have graduated from college star to professional basketball star. He’s seen some struggle and not live up to their potential. For Pumaren’s current set of UE Red Warriors, Emil Renz Palma is particularly vexing. At 6’1” with long arms and athleticism that one wishes could be bottled and sold in the open market, great court vision to make terrific passes, and an ability to get to the rim, he has a shot at a Filipino basketball player’s ultimate goal — the PBA. “He just needs to be consistent,” succinctly put Pumaren. “No, consistently great.”

Now there’s the rub.

The 23-year old Palma is on his last year at UE. In his five years there, he’s been through three coaches — Jerry Codinera, Boycie Zamar, and now, Pumaren. The Nueva Ecija native (although he studied in high school in Aurora, Quezon due to an aunt helping his family out) has tantalized and frustrated with his talent. Even with the talent-laden teams that UE put on the floor recently, Palma’s talent was obvious. He just needs to bring it.

Case in point. His current showing in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup.

In their massive opening day win over Ateneo in overtime, Palma was wreaked havoc on both ends of the court especially during crunchtime tallying 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. In the loss to La Salle in their next outing, the team, not only Palma crashed and burned. Renz finished with a disappointing 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. He somewhat hiked his numbers in the huge win over tough Lyceum 91-75 (the blowout happened in the game’s last five minutes) to 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal however, it’s not enough.

“It’s good because we got a win,” summed up Pumaren after the match, “but Renz is better than that."

Growing up and balling in Aurora, Quezon, Palma idolized only two players — San Miguel Beer’s Arwind Santos and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James. “I’m a big fan,” said Renz of James that he readily switched allegiances when the NBA star took his talents to South Beach.

Palma points to their being two-way players. While he is built nothing like Santos or James, Renz appreciates what they bring to the table on a daily basis. It is what he strives for — being a two-way impact and consistent player. “Maasahan” is the term Palma uses to describe them and it is what he places as a goal for himself more so this final year.

The road to stardom — though it isn’t what he sees for himself but more of team success — isn’t what Palma expected. After graduation from high school, he tried out for the FEU Tamaraws and stayed there for four months before transferring to rival UE. “Pagdating ko sa UE, alam ko na heto na yung aking iskwelahan.”

While he wishes that he could have contributed much earlier in his college career to his team’s efforts, he is one person who quickly puts away the disappointment of failures past. A few years ago, the Red Warriors were like a Wild West show. Running, gunning, and dunking with players like Roi Sumang, Charles Mammie, Adrian Santos, Lord Casajeros, Ralf Olivares, Jay-Arr Sumido, and Gino Jumao-as to name a few. But that team fell flat in its face in UAAP Seasons 76 and 77. Then the team was broken up some due to graduation, some left, while some were removed. 

Since last season, the Red Warriors have changed their identity to one that is more familiar with Derrick Pumaren calling the shots — a tough, defensive-minded All-Filipno squad. “Sa aming sistema,” related Palma despite the lack of African players. “Napu-push yung bigs. Sabi ni Manong (Pumaren) na hindi naman namin kailangan ng foreign player kung kaya natin gawin yung dapat natin gawin. Ang goal ni coach ay i-push kaming lahat sa next level.”

“At syempre, ako rin. Kailangan ko i-push ko sarili ko sa next level.”

Time to shine?

“No, time para sa team namin mag-shine."

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