IPIL, ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY — Renz Palma is best known for his high flying dunks and uber-athletic moves on the court.
But on Wednesday at the Provincial Gymnasium here, the 6-foot-1 winger showed he is more than mixtapes and highlight reels.
In their first game in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup-Mindanao leg, Kapatagan’s once 15-point lead vanished after a strong 18-4 run by Iligan to cut its deficit to just one in the payoff period, 51-52.
But Palma heard the call of the Buffalo Braves head coach Cris Bautista to his veterans: be aggressive, take control.
And that, Palma did.
“Ipinasok ko sa isip ko na first game namin ito, kailangan namin makuha yung panalo para ma-boost lahat ng kasama ko,” said the University of the East product.
“Para rin makilala ‘yung dinadala naming lugar dito na Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.”
With a precarious 55-53 lead, Palma strung together the most important sequence of the game.
First, he took matters into his own hands, penetrating the Archangels’ defense and finished with a top play-worthy up-and-under for the smooth layup.
Then after some missed shots by both squads, Palma struck again. This time, in a form of a trifecta off the left-wing to extend Kapatagan’s margin to seven, 60-53, with just 1:03 left in the game.
That five-point personal run lifted the Braves to a 64-56 victory over Iligan in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Mindanao Leg opener.
And with various experiences under his belt, Palma has accepted the leadership role of this team which has six homegrown players.
“Kini-claim ko yung leadership role. Kapag yung mga homegrown nagtatanong sa amin na hindi nila alam yung play, nagpapaka-leader kami kasi kami yung beterano, kami yung mas may alam sa itinatakbo ng team,” said Palma.
With a veteran like Palma in his team, Bautista breathes a sigh of relief in moments when the Braves kind of falter and relax.
The head tactician knows that Palma, together with Teytey Teodoro will be his stabilizers when things are a little chaotic.
“Si Renz actually kahit sa practice 100-percent yan. Basta’t pinasok mo na yan, talagang 100-percent ang ibibigay niya kaya kita mo naman best player of the game,” Bautista said of Manok ng Bayan recipient Palma.