GIANTS TAME THE TORNADOS AND ADVANCE TO THE TITLE GAME.
The #2 seed Jacksonville Giants defeated the #5 seed Mobile Bay Tornados 109-107 in the Final Four match-up in Baltimore Maryland. The victory puts Jacksonville in their fifth championship matchup in just seven years of play in the American Basketball Association (ABA). The championship game will feature a rematch of the 2016 ABA Championship as Chicago’s #6 seed Windy City Groove upset the undefeated and #1 ranked DMV Warriors in an overtime thriller before the Giants and Tornados took the court.
Much like the Giants first game in the tournament, they found themselves having to come from behind in the second half. After going into the locker room trailing by four at the half, 51-47, the Giants woes continued to start the second half. Trailing 58-49 midway through the third quarter, the Giants seemed frustrated by a physical Tornados team. However Giants’ Head Coach Jerry Williams once again called on the Giants’ full court press defense to bail the team out. The press sparked an 18-4 run late in the third quarter and the Giants took an eight point lead heading into the final period.
Giants’ Power Forward, Calvin Warner, had 11 third quarter points, including a 3D possession layup. Guard Larry Dumas also landed back to back three pointers and had another 3D layup in the third quarter. Giants’ forwad Robert Hornsby led the scoring with 18 points on the night. All of his points came in the second half and three of his field goals were on 3D possessions. Mickens (17 points), Tucker (16 points), Bell (15 points), and Dumas (14 points) rounded out the top scorers for Jacksonville.
The Giants continued pressing in the fourth quarter and caused several turnovers resulting in another run which pushed their lead to as many as 15 midway through the fourth quarter. However, the Tornado’s wouldn’t give up. Late in the quarter, the Tornado’s went on an 8-0 run with quick scoring from Anthony Sims. The Giants held a 108-105 lead with less then 30 seconds left in the game. Mobile Bay made it a 108-107 game with 29 seconds on the clock.
Giants’ guard Maurice Mickens held the ball for the duration of the shot clock and attempted a runner in the lane with just 5 seconds remaining in the game. The shot hit the backboard and it was unclear whether it hit the side of the rim or not, but the referees did not call a shotclock violation. Giants’ Calvin Warner rebounded and with just one second remaining Mickens was fouled. Mickens made the first shot, but missed the second and the Tornado’s attempted a hail mary that went wide right of the basket.
“They (Mobile Bay) outplayed us in first half,” said Giants’ Head Coach Jerry Williams. “We just needed to settle down and play Giants basketball. We knew they were gonna come out hard, its the Final Four.”
“We played as a team and we stayed focused,” said Nugent, who was named the Sports Radio America Player of the Game. “We want nothing more than to bring another Championship back to Jacksonville.”
“Windy City is a scrappy team,” said Williams. “They will give us everything they have. I have so much respect for those guys.”
Jacksonville will take on Windy City Sunday afternoon at 4:30PM Eastern Time in Baltimore.