MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University veteran Jhoana Maraguinot offered no excuses for her disappointing performance in their must-win game against De La Salle University on Sunday, which saw her labor to a season-low six-point output.
Maraguinot entered Sunday’s game averaging 15.15 points per game, and was the Lady Eagles’ leading scorer. But she was almost completely shut down by La Salle in their final elimination round game of UAAP Season 80, with Majoy Baron blocking her repeatedly.
The Lady Spikers claimed a 26-24, 25-17, 25-19 triumph, sending the Lady Eagles to the third seed and ensuring that their archrivals will have a tough road to the finals. Ateneo will play a streaking Far Eastern University (FEU) team that is armed with a twice-to-beat edge in the Final 4.
“I’m disappointed, lalo na sa sarili ko,” a subdued Maraguinot said after the game, which saw her convert only five of 22 spike attempts.
“I know I could do better,” she added, and indeed, Maraguinot has shown over the course of Season 80 that she is capable of carrying the Lady Eagles’ offense.
Against La Salle’s defense, however, Maraguinot simply had no rhythm. Her attacks were either dug up by the Lady Spikers’ superb floor defense, or would go long. She was repeatedly turned back by Baron, who would finish with four kill blocks in the game.
“Kinulang eh,” said Maraguinot. “I think I just have to accept it. Bawi na lang next game.”
It was not just Maraguinot who struggled. Ateneo’s league-best offense was stymied by La Salle on Sunday, and they had only 30 kills all throughout the contest. A bulk of those came in the first set, when they rallied to force a 24-all deadlock before collapsing in the crunch.
That collapse began when Maraguinot fired a service error that put La Salle at set point, 25-24, before Baron put the finishing touches with a stunning quick kill.
“Nag-uusap naman kami,” said Maraguinot. “Siguro, bad day lang talaga.”
“Hindi siguro obvious, but nag-uusap naman kami sa loob eh. Every point naman, tinutulungan namin ang isa’t isa. Siguro, La Salle played better lang today.”
Kat Tolentino was the lone Ateneo player in double-digits with 15 points. Skipper Maddie Madayag had eight points, but she only attempted nine spikes. Bea de Leon had only three points, and was subbed out of the game in the third set in favor of the inexperienced Bettina Abella.
“Everyone has their bad days naman,” Madayag said after the loss. “Nagkataon lang na sabay sila.”
“For sure naman, babawi sila,” she added optimistically. “Alam naman na nila sa sarili nila. Hindi naman siguro ‘yun something that would bring them down. It’s something that would encourage them more to do better in training.”
Maraguinot acknowledged that her confidence took a hit with Sunday’s result, but is hopeful she can recover between now and Saturday, when they take on the FEU Lady Tamaraws in the Final 4.
“Today, I’d soak it all in, accept it,” she said. “Tomorrow is a new day.”
“Bounce back na lang.”
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.