FRAN Yu has ended his collegiate career in Letran Knights uniform the worst way possible — via suspension.
In a turn of events that could tip the balance of the NCAA Season 98 finals, League Commissioner Tonichi Pujante officially brought down the one-game ban that everybody expected on the wily but emotional Letran captain for elbowing College of St. Benilde’s Mark Sangco on the chin in last Sunday’s Game Two at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was a decision that was forthcoming as video footages of the incident that had gone viral have clearly showed Mr. Yu’s offense, which merited an automatic one-game suspension that he will serve in the decider on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Pasig.
“As per NCAA Ground Rules Art. 7.2, a player who is thrown out of the game by the referee for unsportsmanlike conduct in any game will be suspended for one game, implemented immediately in the next scheduled team game,” Mr. Pujante told The STAR.
The three-peat-seeking Letran Knights took the opener, 81-75, last Dec. 4 but the Blazers, who are eyeing their second title after snaring their breakthrough crown in 2000, claimed Game Two, 76-71, a week after, both played at the Big Dome.
Mr. Yu will be the third player to get the axe after Letran teammates Kyle Tolentino and Kobe Monje were also banned from Game Two for their dangerous fouls in Game One.
Another teammate, Louie Sangalang was also reprimanded and asked to do community work for touching CSB big man and reigning league MVP Will Gozum’s behind also in Game One.
But Mr. Yu’s unfortunate failure to control himself in unleashing that devastating elbow could be the biggest blow for a Letran side seeking a third straight crown and 20th overall, which would have pushed them closer to the league-best 22 titles by archrivals San Beda’s Lions.
Mr. Yu was seen on his knees, covering his face and crying in agony and despair from behind the Knights during the singing of the customary school hymns after Game Two, which was in stark contrast to the bravado and taunt he showed amid the jeers of the opposing fans when he was exiting the court following his ejection in the second quarter.
He knew that he had just played last game for a team he helped win two NCAA championships. — Joey Villar