The Jacksonville Giants closed out their road series with the Chicago Steam in a valiant effort, losing 130-120. The Giants and Steam wrapped up their regular season series with the Giants winning three out of four games. The Giants have handed the Steam their only three defeats of the season. Jacksonville drops to 16-5 and Chicago improves to 9-3 on the year.
“The Steam are a great team and we can’t take anything away from them. It’s tough to beat a team like the Steam four straight,” said Giants Owner Ron Sholes.
The weekend series vs Chicago featured two physical games in which the Giants fell victim to several injuries. On Sunday, the Giants were without their leading scorer, Bernard Nugent, who went down to an ankle injury on Saturday and also perennial ABA All Star and 2013-14 ABA Final Four MVP, Ed Horton, who injured his shoulder in Saturday’s game. “We had a couple key players go down in Saturday’s game and that happens,” added Sholes. “We have a lot of basketball left and will see what their statues is when they get back to Jacksonville.”
Chicago jumped out to an early first half lead and went into halftime with a 60-48 advantage. Chicago point guard Andre Muse had 18 first half points, while landing two-three point shots. Muse ended the game with a team high 37 points. Anderson was the second leading scorer for the Steam with 22 total points. Chicago played with a sense of urgency, throughout the first half, as they tried to keep the Giants in a double digit deficit.
Chicago kept the lead throughout the third quarter, securing an 88-73 lead going into the fourth. Jacksonville was unable to stop the combination of Muse and Anderson. However, the Giants did not go out without a fight. Trailing by 18 with three minutes remaining, the giants went on a 25-13 run and cut the lead to 6 points with just 25 seconds left. Maurice Mickens led the Giants with 22 points while Richard Ford (17 points) and Chris Blake (16 points) rounded out the top scorers for Jacksonville.
Despite the loss, the Giants still look to be in contention for a number one spot in the next batch of ABA Power Rankings. With one of the toughest schedules in the ABA, the Giants have now played twelve games against top ten ranked opponents, not including four additional games against the South Florida Gold and Atlanta Wildcats. Jacksonville is currently second in the polls, trailing the number one ranked Mobile Bay Tornadoes. The Giants and Tornadoes only share one common opponent in the Jackson Showboats. The Tornadoes defeated the Showboats by just three points, while the Giants defeated the Showboats by an average of 40 points, in both games.
Jacksonville will now turn their attention to an East coast road trip on February 12-13, where the Giants and the undefeated (9-0) and #4 ranked Richmond Elite will play Friday night in Richmond. Then, the Giants will play the Washington D.C. area DMV Warriors, who are currently ranked #9. Both games will have major implications on the ABA Power Rankings. Jacksonville returns home for Military Appreciation Night on Friday, February 19, at 7PM, against the Baltimore Hawks, before turning their attention to the Daytona Sharks, the only other team in the ABA to have defeated the Miami Midnites.