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    Fran Yu's star turn reminds Paul Lee of his own humble beginnings

    Jul 5, 2020
    PHOTO: PBA D-League Images / Spin.ph

    BY now, Fran Yu's ascent from relative obscurity to an inspirational champion is well documented.

    And count Paul Lee as one of his fans.

    The Magnolia guard could only tip his hat to the Letran stud, saying he saw similarities between his own path to stardom to that of his fellow Manileño.

    "Sobrang saludo ako (kay Fran) kasi nung una ko pa lang siyang nakita sa UE, parang talagang naalala ko yung sarili ko," he told The Prospects Pod.

    "Alam mo 'yung sobrang payat, parang butiki talaga sa eskwelahan at pinagtatawanan sa court dahil sa sobrang payat."

    Yu, of course, had his fair share of doubters, the most memorable being the "namamasada" jab during his juniors years at University of the East.

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    His brush with cyberbullying tormented the Sta. Cruz, Manila native, who said it almost drove him out of basketball.

    "Syempre wala naman akong ginagawang masama," the 5-foot-11 guard said. "Galing ako ng Palarong Pambansa noon, open yung court noon kaya maitim talaga kaming lahat. Tsaka simula noong bata ako, maitim ako eh. Hindi ko alam kung bakit nila nasabi yun, eh naglalaro lang naman ako.

    "Noong lumabas yung meme na yun, parang nawalan ako ng gana. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, kailangan kong magpalaki ng katawan at i-improve pa yung skills ko para makipagsabayan ako sa mas malalaki sa akin."

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    Yu left the Red Warriors camp and took his act to Thailand with Traill International School before finding his way back to the Philippines by way of Letran.

    All of those motivations finally bore fruit this past NCAA Season 95 where he anchored Letran to the championship and earned Finals MVP honors.

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    Quite a timeless story, really, and Lee said that these motivations should always serve as a chip on Yu's shoulders no matter how far he goes.

    "Kailangan yung fire mo na yun, hindi mawawala sa 'yo kasi yun yung pinaka-importante. Kumbaga gawin mong motivation yung nangyari sa 'yo sa UE, yung mga nanlalait sa 'yo before na hindi ka nagpapaapekto at talagang tinatrabaho mo lahat. Yun yung pinakamasarap pag nakarating ka kung nasaan man ako ngayon," he said.

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      "Lahat ng nanlalait sa 'yo dati na kahit kakilala mo, mahal na mahal ka na ngayon."

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      PHOTO: PBA D-League Images / Spin.ph
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