Jacksonville, FL – The four-time defending ABA National Champion Jacksonville Giants had another thrilling opening night on Saturday, December 15, 2017, as they celebrated their most recent championship and paid tribute to one of their own. The Giants powered through the Alabama based Mobile Bay Tornadoes, 138-98, in front of a large home crowd at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The victory puts Jacksonville at 7-0 for the season and gives them their 29th straight win, dating back to December of 2016.
“It was a very emotional win,” said Giants head coach Jerry Williams. “We played inspired all game.”
Before the game the Giants held a ring ceremony to celebrate the team’s 2016-17 ABA National Championship season. The pre-game ceremony also paid tribute to Giants Vice President of Operations Joe Miller. Miller passed away unexpectedly in the offseason. Before the game the team showed a video in remembrance of Miller and team Owner Ron Sholes presented the championship ring to Miller’s family.
“We love Joe Miller and may he Rest In Peace,” said Giants’ point guard Bernard Nugent.
The Giants started the contest in energetic fashion as the team jumped out to an overpowering 39-13 first quarter lead. The veteran guard duo of Ed Horton and Maurice Mickens combined for 20 points in the opening quarter, putting the Giants in a commanding lead. Calvin Warner also contributed with strong inside play. Warner led the Giants with 27 points, with Aaron Bowen (23 points), Larry Dumas (14 points), and Horton (14 points) rounding out the scoring leaders. Seven Jacksonville players scored double digits in the game.
“I’m very proud of the guys,” said Williams.
The dominant play continued the remainder of the half with Jacksonville taking a 73-40 lead. Defensively the Giants were very strong, playing physical the entire half and keeping Mobile Bay from making a comeback. The team speed of Jacksonville was too much for the Tornados, forcing 25 turnovers. Nugent’s finesse defense led the team with 6 steals with Jermaine Bell and Ed Horton leading the team with 8 rebounds each. Dylon Cormier and Mickens added 3 steals each showing that the Giants are just as stacked on defense as they are on offense.
“We practice hard and play as a team,” said Warner, who was named the game MVP.
Jacksonville kept playing flawless for the remainder of the game with all players contributing in the win. Cormier, Bowen, Warner, and newcomer Tim Amerson each had electrifying slam dunks to close out the game. The Giants were also successful from beyond the 3-point line hitting on 14 three pointers in the game.
“We played tough,” said Warner.
Prior to the game, Giants’ fans started the fun at the pre-game party held at the front of the arena with bounce houses by Jumperama of St. Augustine, DJ Jay Mowton, Pizza Hut, and facepainting.
The Giants return to the Arena on Monday morning in front of some of their youngest fans for a 10:00 a.m. game against the Mississippi based Jackson Showboats. This marks the Giants’ 2nd annual School Field Trip game. Last year one teacher and one chaperone connected on back to back half-court shots that earned them $500 each.
Joe Miller with MR. Biggs. The Giants have dedicated this season in honor of Joe’s memory.