SEEING Fran Yu turn into the player that he is for Letran today brings a lot of pride for Derick Pumaren.
Pumaren is the least surprised to see the underrated Yu become one of the top guards in the collegiate ranks following his sensational showing in the Knights' run to the NCAA championship last season.
"He's playing with confidence and he has matured now," said the veteran mentor.
Pumaren recruited Yu for University of the East and they were together briefly back in 2016, but that partnership ended when Yu decided to take his act to Traill International School in Thailand.
Now, Pumaren feels vindicated after he took a chance on the 5-foot-10 guard from Chiang Kai Shek College back during his time with the UE Red Warriors.
"It shows why I tried to recruit him that time," said Pumaren, 57, who now calls the shots for Letran. "When I recruited him, I expected what he can do, but things did not work out right. But I'm really happy with his development."
Yu wasted no time showing his former coach how far he has gone, firing 24 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals in their first match-up against Pumaren's La Salle side in the PBA D-League.
However, it was Pumaren's side which had the last laugh as EcoOil-La Salle beat Wangs-Letran, 102-90 in the two teams Aspirants' Cup debut on Monday.
Brief as the reunion was, Yu was thrilled to have this chance to face off against his former coach.
"Thankful ako kasi siya ang nag-recruit sa akin nung high school. Naniwala siya na kaya kong maglaro sa college level, pero sayang lang kasi hindi nagtagal yung pagsasama namin ni Manong," said the soft-spoken guard.
Yu's focus, however, is on turning himself into a leader for the Knights in the lead-up to the next NCAA season.
"Syempre every game, kailangan mo ipakita ang best mo. Bago ang teammates namin, so kailangan namin mag-step up as leaders," Yu said. "Ako, sinasanay ko ang sarili ko sa practice.
"Nagsisimula pa din ako kaya china-chat ko sila Bon (Batiller) at sila Jerrick (Balanza) kung anong kailangan kong gawin as a leader kasi sa amin dapat nagsisimula ang lahat."