MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo’s Jhoana Maraguinot was clearly frustrated at the reserve box as she watched the Lady Eagles struggle against the De La Salle Lady Spikers in the opening set of their UAAP Season 79 match on Saturday.
Maraguinot sat out for the second consecutive game to rest her right knee, though she was actually cleared to play. The decision made sense: both La Salle and Ateneo had already secured a twice-to-beat bonus in the Final 4, with only pride and the No. 1 seed on the line.
Yet as Ateneo kept having trouble in finishing off attacks and in dealing with La Salle’s offense, Maraguinot grew increasingly frustrated. She was shown on TV looking irate after the Lady Eagles gave up another point.
“I’m so frustrated with myself,” she said afterwards. “Lalo na noong first set, as in parang sobrang taranta nila. Kita mo sa kanila, parang lost sila, and hindi ako makatulong in any way, kasi nasa labas ako.”
“Sobrang hirap din for me,” she added.[I’m so frustrated with myself, especially in the first set, when they were so shaky. They looked so lost, and I couldn’t help in any way because I wasn’t playing. It was really difficult for me.]
Ateneo trailed 24-9 in the opening frame, and wound up losing 25-12. But Maraguinot said she never lost faith in her teammates, that they would find a way to battle back.
“Alam ko sa sarili ko na babawi sila,” she said with certainty. “Nag-warm up lang sila (noong first set).”[I know that they will bounce back. They were just warming up in the first set.]
The Lady Eagles made sure that Maraguinot’s trust was not misplaced. They tightened up their service reception, and rookie Jules Samonte stepped up to fill in the hole that Maraguinot had left on offense.
“Nagtiwala ako sa teammates ko na kaya nila ‘yun,” said Maraguinot.[I believed in my teammates, that they can do it.]
Ateneo came away with a stunning 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19 victory over their arch-rivals, a result that was in many ways unexpected as they were playing without their top scorer. The Lady Eagles themselves were surprised at their achievement.
“We didn’t expect the win, especially after that first set,” said Bea de Leon.
“It’s a big boost for our confidence, because we all know naman that we didn’t play with Jho today,” she also said. “That’s good for us, because even though we were undermanned and not complete or intact, we saw we can deliver even with our bench players. That’s good for us.”
Maraguinot agreed that her teammates’ spirits were lifted by the victory, especially as many of them were feeling nervous ahead of the game, considering the uncertainty of her status.
“Siguro naman, it’s a morale booster for my teammates. Nawala na rin sa isip nila na hindi sila (kumpleto),” she said. “Coming into the game, parang sinasabi nila na, ‘Ano, maglalaro ka ba?’ Ako, sabi ko, ‘Pwede naman.’ Parang natataranta sila, pero ngayon, feeling ko confident na sila na kaya nila noong wala ako sa loob.”[I think it’s a morale booster for my teammates. They’re no longer thinking that they’re not complete. Coming into the game, they were asking me if I would play, and I said that I might. At the time, they were nervous, but now, I feel that they’re confident that they can do it even without me.]
Maraguinot is expected to return when Ateneo takes on Far Eastern University in the Final Four starting on April 23.
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