(Photo by Flavius Dulce/Sports Gateway PH)
MANILA – Jhoana Maraguinot is full of surprises.
At the outset of the 13th Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference, many were surprised to see Maraguinot in civilian clothes while wearing a walking boot. It was later discovered that the Ateneo superstar suffered a stress fracture on her left leg.
This came as a shock to everyone. Ever since the departure of multi-awarded athlete Alyssa Valdez from the team, it was Maraguinot who was expected to shoulder most of the scoring void left by her Phenom teammate.
Yet on Monday night, many volleyball fans were again surprised to see the AB Information Design volleybelle participating in the spiking drills of her team just before Game 1 of the best-of-three finals series started against defending champions NU Lady Bulldogs.
Although she has been in uniform for the Lady Eagles since the semis, no definite timetable was given on her return.
Just like everyone else in the arena, Maraguinot was also surprised of the development herself.
“Knowing Coach Tai, he doesn’t want a player to play na walang training,” she shared.
“Kanina nagulat din ako nung sinabi niya sa akin na mag-warm up ako. Nung binigyan niya ako ng card, sobrang nagulat din ako.”
The Batangas-native revealed that she was only cleared on Sunday night, and has joined the Lady Eagles in only one of their training sessions – the morning right before the game.
Despite not being a hundred percent, Maraguinot did her best to help out the team in the finals duel. She finished with nine points, including the final point to clinch the third set for the Lady Eagles, and two points in the latter stretch of the fifth set.
“Super happy, as in sobrang happy,” she said of her comeback. “I’m doing it for the team, hindi ko na iisipin yung sarili ko.”
But Maraguinot knows well enough that she has a long road ahead of her to be at the top level of her game once again.
“Kailangan ko pa rin ng strengthening,” she admitted. “Sobrang hina pa eh, hindi pa rin ako makasabay sa galaw nila kasi sila sobrang kondisyon na, ako magsa-start pa lang ulit ako mag-training.”
“Kailangan ko pa ng mas malakas na katawan,” she added.
However, the Lady Bulldogs spoiled her comeback with a win over the Lady Eagles in five action-packed sets.
Now that her team is once again placed in a peculiar situation, the explosive scorer believes it’s going to take more than just their desire to win to force a winner-takes-all match.
For Game 2 of the finals series against the Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Eagles are about to play their fifth do-or-die game in the conference.
“Yes, do-or-die! We love that! Yun yung mga peg namin sa buhay,” she candidly said.
On a more serious note, Maraguinot said that the team needs to learn how loosen up in tight situations.
“Nung padulo medyo na-rattle na kaming lahat eh,” she said. “Siguro mas mag focus kami sa game. Pag naunahan kasi kami minsan natataranta kami, so kailangan relax lang.”
“Babawi’t babawi,” the Lethal Spiker ended.