Maraguinot earns praises from Alyssa Valdez in captain’s last Final Four match

MANILA – In the latest display of heroics by the “Phenom” Alyssa Valdez, she once again deflected the attention to give where credit is due.

As she entered the press room after the match, Valdez immediately checked the game statistics even before entertaining questions from the media. Moments later, she exclaimed, “Oh, sobrang ganda ng game ni Jho!”

The reigning league Most Valuable Player referred to her rising superstar teammate Jhoana Maraguinot who top-scored all players in the Final Four showdown with 17 points on 10 attacks, three blocks, and four service aces.

The Ateneo Lady Eagles won the third instalment of the Battle of Katipunan against the UP Lady Maroons in straight sets, 25-19, 25-16, and 25-21 on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Just when the Lady Maroons erased the huge lead built by the Lady Eagles in the third set led by the inspired play of veteran Nicole Tiamzon, Alyssa Valdez took matters into her own hands as she fired canons after canons to secure the victory over the dangerous squad of Coach Jerry Yee.

But in the post-game presser, the Ateneo skipper just downplayed the hype. “Si Jia (Morado) eh. Binigay din ni Jia. I’m just happy. I’m just lucky,” she said.

The five-time UAAP Finalist and two-time champion did not stop there.

“Super Jho! I love her so much,” Valdez quickly answered in enthusiasm when asked about her protégée Jhoana Maraguinot. She added, “Whenever you need a point, whenever you need anything, super reliable talaga si Jho.”

The big win in what turned out to be Valdez’s last Final Four game in the league earned the Lady Eagles the first slot to the Season 78 Finals.

“I’m so thankful for the fifth year I’m entering into the finals with different teammates, different coaches. I’m just really lucky to be there again for the last time,” Valdez said.

But is the Ateneo mainstay ready to leave the UAAP soon?

“Saka na natin isipin. Minsan inspiration and motivation din namin to really push ourselves sa training. Last two weeks, last stretch. But I’m not really thinking of leaving the UAAP pa,” she ended.