MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) The smallest man on the floor proved to be the most crucial contributor for Colegio de San Juan de Letran in its run to the NCAA Season 95 crown.
Fran Yu, the year's Most Improved Player, displayed nerves of steel and tremendous courage in piloting the Knights to victory over their archrivals, San Beda University, in a finals series that went the full route.
He normed 13.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals in the three-game series, including a 23-point explosion in their narrow 79-76 loss in Game 2. In the final game, with the title on the line, he put up 8 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, while fighting through cramps in the closing minutes.
He made the clutch free throws with 15.9 seconds left that gave the Knights an 81-76 lead, before waving goodbye to the San Beda gallery on the other side of the Mall of Asia Arena.
"Wala naman, ano lang 'yun, nadala lang ako ng emosyon ko kasi noong na-shoot ko 'yun, lumamang kami ng five points," Yu said after the game. "Ilang seconds na lang 'yun, so 'yun. Kahit ma-convert nila, babalik sa amin 'yung bola."
"Mas naging kumpyansa lang ako noon."
Yu had to be helped off the court with 5.4 seconds to go as he finally succumbed to cramps, but he ran back to the floor just moments later after his teammates sealed their 81-79 win to secure the championship.
"Sobrang sakit," Yu said of his cramps.
Unlike in Game 2, however, when he had to leave with over three minutes left, Yu managed to make it nearly all the way to the final buzzer.
"'Pag bumigay ako, sa akin masisisi," he pointed out. "At saka, andito na rin kami sa dulo eh. Ngayon pa ba ako bibigay?"
It capped a terrific year from Yu, who averaged 9.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game en route to the finals.
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