After playing at just 20% in Finals, Jho Maraguinot eager to get back in shape

Jho Maraguinot fully embodied the famed Ateneo mantra ‘happy and heartstrong’ in the best-of-three finale against NU in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference.

Straight from partially recovering from a leg injury, Maraguinot was called for duty by head coach Tai Bundit to bolster the Lady Eagles’ offense and defense in their bid to stop—or at least match—the onslaught that is Jaja Santiago.

If you watched the series, you’ve probably seen the outside hitter flying high with her spikes and giggling with her teammates even after errors as if nothing is bothering her but she reveals she was only 20% of her full form in Games 1 and 2 which they lost in 5 sets.

“Sobrang hina ng katawan ko. Every jump ko feeling ko ma-sprain ako pag nag land ako kaya sobrang alalay din ako kanina,” admitted Maraguinot.

“Sa buong galaw sa loob sobrang hirap na hirap ako. Sa ngayon sumasakit ‘yung katawan ko kasi kakabalik ko nga lang,” she added.

Despite Maraguinot’s late entry in the second set of Wednesday’s tussle at the PhilSports Arena, she managed to chip in 13 markers (12 coming from attacks) to match skipper Michelle Morente’s output and be just a point behind topscorer Bea de Leon, who poured 14 points.

“I’m not sure if it would have been different kung kundisyon ako. Hindi ko rin kasi ma-differentiate. Hindi ko masabi kasi sa ngayon talaga sobrang hina ng tingin ko sa sarili ko,” she shared. “Siguro mas aggressive ako tumalon kung 100% ako kasi ngayon sobrang hirap ako gumalaw.”

In the end, the Lady Eagles just did not have enough muscle to contain NU’s Santiago who once again overwhelmed and pounded Ateneo’s defense with 23 kills on top of 4 blocks.

Talking about her lukewarm performance defense-wise, Maraguinot shares: “Kung naka-training sana ako ng maayos kahit defense nakatulong ako. Ang laking factor nung defense eh. Hindi ko siya na-training. Nag double time ako sa pagtalon.”

In hindsight, however, the Katipunan crew had nothing to lose and everything to gain after pundits already counted them out of the competition due to the back-to-back losses it registered to oepn the tournament.

Working their way up little by little, the Lady Eagles survived and thrived in multiple do-or-die games that has since strengthened the team’s bond and tested their mettle to almost breaking point.

“Proud pa rin ako na umabot kami dito. We started from the bottom, nagsimula kami sa dalawang talo, ilang do-or-die games tapos ngayon nandito kami,” said the Batangueña holding her head high. “Sobrang proud pa din ako lalo na sa mga teammates ko. Sila talaga ‘yung naghirap para makarating kami dito. Ako tumulong lang ng konti.”

Asked if she thinks Ateneo remains to be a contender for Season 79, Maraguinot humbly closed by saying: “Konting training pa. Kailangang mahasa pa kami. Kailangan din naming mag back to basic kasi ibang team na ito. Halos lahat kami back to zero.” — By Mac Dionisio