It’s fair to say that Jhoana Maraguinot hasn’t been herself lately. And she sees that too.
In the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles’ straight-set win over the University of the East Lady Warriors, the Lady Eagles’ usual starting open hitter struggled to get her offense going and was subsequently benched for much of the match.
The Batangas native chalks it up to just another bad day on the court. But she also admitted that she could be doing more to help the team.
“Siguro it’s just one of the bad games talaga. I’m trying to recover naman and train hard para makabawi ako. I don’t wanna reason out naman,” Maraguinot told Tiebreaker Times after their win over UE.
“Sabi lang sa amin ni coach Tai [Bundit] na we really need to focus and be more aggressive. He thinks kasi that lately parang nag-iiba ‘yung laro namin, especially ako. Basta focus lang talaga.”
One of last season’s best attackers at just under 45 percent attacking, Maraguinot’s efficiency has fallen to 35 percent in Season 79. While Ateneo are still the best spiking team in the league, having Maraguinot back to form this season could take them over the edge and into another Finals appearance.
With a 4-1 record, Ateneo’s last two first-round matches are crucial. On Sunday, they face their undefeated Katipunan neighbors, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons. Following that is the highly-anticipated Ateneo-La Salle showdown in March 4.
Winning their next two matches could propel the Lady Eagles to the second round with a high chance of a twice-to-beat incentive in the Final Four. Perform poorly, and the Lady Eagles could get caught in a frantic chase for a Final Four spot.
And when Maraguinot finds her focus, the Lady Eagles will be hard to stop.