PAGADIAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — As good as he was back in NCAA Season 95, winning the championship and Finals MVP with Letran, Fran Yu will be back even better – with new tricks up his sleeve.
This as the 5-foot-10 all-around guard of JPS Zamboanga City earned so much experience playing with and against veteran players in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup.
“Malaking tulong itong Chooks-to-Go VisMin personally kasi stepping stone ito kung saan ako pupunta after college,” said Yu.
“Mga ex-pro na ‘yung kalaban ko, hindi na college, magiging advantage ko ito pagbalik ng NCAA kasi ang dami kong experience na nakuha.”
But even just within the Zamboanga camp, veterans were plenty, with Rudy Lingganay and Aaron Jeruta in the same position as Yu; Mac Cardona, Gabby Espinas, and Jerwin Gaco as the vocal leaders of the squad.
Despite those big names – a handful of championships between them – the veterans treat the young guns no different.
“Sobrang reachable nila. Sila pa yung nag-momotivate sa amin na galingan namin kasi paangat pa lang yung career namin, sila stable na sila,” shared Yu, the youngest in JPS roster at 23.
“Walang barricade na nangyari kahit sila nag champion na sa PBA tapos ako NCAA pa lang. Hindi nila inisip na NCAA lang ito, bata lang ‘to.”
There are no barriers, as Yu even shared jokingly that sometimes, the youthful players were the ones who scold their older teammates.
Even just at 23, the big-time player from Tondo proved that he belongs in the regional pro league, especially when it mattered most.
Carrying averages of 8.5 points, 4.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in six games in the elimination round, Yu hiked those numbers come playoffs, his playground in the NCAA.
In six games of playoff basketball, before they were eliminated by Petra Cement-Roxas in semifinals phase two, the proud son of Letran produced 13 points, 4.33 rebounds, 3.83 assists, and 2.83 steals.
Yu drained the big buckets against heavyweight Clarin in overtime, 95-93, to lead JPS to the semifinals round two.
He tallied 15 points in the fourth and extra period to finish with 21 points, to go with eight assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
Another noteworthy playoff performance of Yu came when he made the most important plays on both sides of the court to seal the deal against ALZA Alayon in the quarterfinals.
When collegiate basketball returns, Yu still has two remaining playing years for the Knights.
However, he hopes that this is not the last he has seen of the special team they built in Zamboanga, headed by coach Tony Pardo.
“Usapan namin na hindi dito yung last na team namin. Stepping stone yun kapag may team, sana kami kami pa rin ‘yung magkakasama.”
Source: Tiebreaker Times