BLACKWATER head coach Leo Isaac believes the team got a steal in the PBA rookie draft in Renz Palma, who flew under the radar until he was taken by the Elite in the second round.
The 6-foot-1 Palma never really stood out in his UAAP stint with the University of the East, but his strong showing for Tanduay in the PBA D-League convinced Blackwater to nab the Aurora, Quezon native ahead of highly touted Louie Vigil and Davon Potts.
The Elite management was so impressed with the 24-year-old guard to the point that owner Dioceldo Sy even called him the second coming of another former Red Warrior in Ronald Tubid with his athleticism and defensive prowess.
He was later signed to a one-year deal by the Elite.
"Yung Palma, nakikitaan namin ng grabeng speed at grabeng athleticism e. Masarap idevelop into a defensive player. Kung may player na [Marcio] Lassiter, [Alex] Cabagnot or [Terrence] Romeo na gusto mo ilockdown at padepensahan, ito yung player na pwede mong asahan," Isaac said.
"Grabe yung gaan ng katawan niya. Kala mo papel e. Pag lumipad ipapalo na lang yung bola sa ring e. So nakikitaan ko siya ng skill na hindi lahat ng player meron," added the Blackwater coach.
Isaac has been pleased with the performance of third overall pick Raymar Jose as well after a couple of days of practice with the team. But as good as both picks are, the former PBA cager turned coach understands that there's still a huge adjustment period that the two have to go through.
"Ang mga draftees naman e depende sa kanila 'yan e on how they will develop themselves in the PBA. Bihira naman yung nag-draft ka ng number one, automatic, the first conference, impact player sila. Bihirang bihira yung ganun," Isaac said.
In Jose’s case, for example, Isaac sees a star in the making but insists the former Far Eastern University standout needs to be patient as they expect him to play alongside rising star JP Erram down low to form a solid frontcourt tandem for the Elite.
"Siya yung weakside player na, sabihin na nating umatake si Erram sa strong side, pag sumablay si Erram, si Raymar Jose ang gagawa nung mahirap na trabaho na kunin ang bola. Yun ang strong point niya," Isaac said.
"Dun mageevolve ang game niya, hanggang sa madevelop niya yung ibang skills niya as a big man," he added. "Pasensya lang. Kailangan maging pasensyoso rin siya, wag siya mainip hanggang sa unti unti, marating niya yung stardom na hinahangad ng manlalaro."
All in all, Isaac believed that the two are already PBA-ready owing to the way they have already stood out in team practices.
Expectations should be tempered however and if these players work hard and understand the value of waiting, Isaac knows that these two guys will be a big part of their future.
After all, not everyone can be a rookie-MVP.
"Bihirang bihira yung kukunin mo, and right then and there, impact player. Tama si boss Dioceldo, Benjie Paras lang yun," said Isaac.