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Nikolas Yu on playing through grief, setbacks, and triumphs in final year with SHS-AdC 

By: Glendale G. Rosal - Multimedia Correspondent - CDN Digital | January 01,2024 - 06:00 AM

Nikolas Felipe Yu holding the Cesafi High School champion's trophy. | Contributed photo

Nikolas Felipe Yu holding the Cesafi High School champion’s trophy. | Contributed photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — An athlete, who performs at peak level while in grief, is somewhat special in the world of sports and that’s what Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles’ Nikolas Felipe Yu proved when in his final year in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi). 

The 18-year-old Yu is part of the grand slam Cesafi high school champions, the SHS-AdC Magis Eagles alongside notable players in Jared Bahay, Alden Cainglet, Jelo Mar Rota, Froilan Maglasang, and RJ Dacalos. 

However, not many know, that Yu played through grief and setbacks in his final year with the Magis Eagles. 

READ: Bahay : Championship promise to Magis Eagles fulfilled after team bags Cesafi hoops trophy

Nikolas Yu: Playing through grief

In an interview with CDN Digital, Yu was grieving the untimely passing of his 14-year-old sister Tia earlier this year.  

“I was actually playing and grieving at the same time from the passing away of my 14-year-old sister Tia,” Yu told CDN Digital. 

“She was actually my most supportive sister when it comes to basketball. We always go home late together after practice because she is also part of the Magis Eagles Volleyball team.”

Amid the pain, Yu was determined to have a noteworthy finale as a tribute also for his beloved sister.  

“This last year was a very painful year yet with a very sweet ending. Painful emotionally and physically,” said Yu. 

“I started the year having to cope with the pain of losing my sister but yet ended with becoming a Palarong Pambansa and Cesafi champion.” 

READ: UV outplays SHS-AdC, takes game one of Cesafi high school finals

On-court setbacks of Nikolas Yu

Yu revealed that his challenges didn’t end from grief. He also has on-court struggles, particularly his recurring ankle sprain, which affects his games.

“Later during the season, I suffered with a recurring ankle sprain but luckily was able to come back mid-season. I even had to go through a suspension and on-court antics by certain teams. The year was tough but for some reason, it always ended with a sweet moment “a bitter-sweet moment” they say,” said Yu.

It can be recalled that Yu got elbowed on the head by a player from a team that’s no longer in Cesafi anymore during their elimination round game that went viral online. 

READ: Cesafi sanctions 4 players, 3 referees for high school semis melee

Nikolas Yu shooting a three in Game 3 of the Cesafi High School best-of-three finals series against UV. | Photo from Sugbuanong Kodaker

Nikolas Yu shooting a three in Game 3 of the Cesafi High School best-of-three finals series against UV. | Photo from Sugbuanong Kodaker


In the semifinals, Yu got suspended after his on-court altercation after rushing in to help his teammate. He was seen being choked by a player from the opposing team during the altercation, resulting in multiple suspensions and fines. 

Despite all these, he eventually turned the table in his favor. He went on to play all three games in the Best-of-Three finals showdown against their rivals, the UV Baby Green Lancers in Cesafi. 

He was a crucial piece for the Magis Eagles defensively to win the Cesafi High School title for three straight seasons. 

Behind the scenes, Yu said that he constantly needed to do extra work since he wasn’t a recruit compared to his teammates in Bahay, Dacalos, Go, Cainglet, and Froilan Maglasang. 

“I had to do extra work since I joined the Magis Eagles since if I’m not mistaken I’m the only one who is not a recruit in our strong 5. That is a big challenge for me,” he said. 

READ: Cesafi: Magis Eagles coach Rasmo vows to bounce back, UV confident of dethroning SHS-AdC

Valuable lessons

Amid his roller-coaster final year with the Magis Eagles, Yu didn’t fail to pick valuable lessons along the way. 

“The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you always need people to succeed. Everything in life is a team even tennis players have their trainers and they are a team. A family is a team too. we can even consider our dog as our teammate. Always be around people and cherish every moment, it won’t last long,” Yu said. 

READ: Cesafi: Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles are high school champions anew


Before they defeated UV in Game 3 of their Best-of-Three finals series, 58-55, last December 15, at the Cebu Coliseum, Yu and the Magis Eagles reaped major achievements in the local basketball scene. 

Yu who is mentored by Rommel Rasmo and Francis Aoquico was part of the Magis Eagles team that won the Palarong Pambansa gold medal in Marikina City. They defeated the NU Nazareth Bullpups in the gold medal round.

It was a sweet revenge for the Magis Eagles after the Bullpups outlasted them in the semifinals of the NBTC National Finals in Manila. 

Before that, they ruled the pre-qualifying cluster tournament of the Palarong Pambansa and topped the CVIRAA meet in Cebu. 

READ: Rommel Rasmo’s ‘sweet’ victory: Magis Eagles secure 7th CESAFI title

Plans for college

“I’m going to miss my coaches’ long lectures after a loss, and even longer lectures after a win,” Yu jokingly said. 

“Of course, I’m going to miss my teammates’ reactions to those lectures, and especially Doc. Rhoel Dejano’s morning workouts.” 

Yu plans to continue playing college basketball with the hopes of making it to the big leagues in Manila.

However, this prolific shooting guard also considering pursuing a more serious profession in medicine and lawyering. 

Yu might not be that certain about his next basketball chapter, but he left an indelible mark on his team, family, and friends.

READ: Three hours of hell: A UAAP championship timeline

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TAGS: Cesafi high school basketball champions, champions, Nikolas Yu, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) Magis Eagles

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