Jacksonville, FL – The Jacksonville Giants, in front of a large crowd at the Jacksonville Memorial Arena, won their ninth straight game, of the season, in a 127-94 route of the Orlando Waves. The Giants improve to 17-1 on the season and are 39-1 dating back to December 2016.
After losing in January to the Wave, the focus was strong heading into the rematch game with Orlando. Head coach Jerry Williams was very motivated to get his team on the court to redeem the early season loss.
“This is the biggest game of the season,” said Williams during pregame. “This is a very important game in order for us to win the division. We made a lot of mistakes the last time we played Orlando and we will not make them tonight.”
Coach Williams was correct. The Giants played fast and physical in the lopsided win. Jacksonville had seven players score in double figures and had 18 total team steals. Offensively, the Giants were led by ABA MVP Maurice Mickens. Mickens scored 27 points in the win and was named the player of the game. Mickens did major damage to the Waves defense, especially with his outside shooting as the point guard converted successfully on four-three point baskets. Jermaine Bell (16 points), Aaron Bowen (15 points), and Jeremiah Hill (15 points) rounded out the top scorers for the Giants.
“We played good,” said Mickens. “I’m proud of my team.”
Defensively, the Giants played at an aggressive pace, applying pressure to the waves all evening. Orlando had a very difficult time getting shots off. Hill, Bernard Nugent, and Dylon Cormier all played major roles in the defensive game plan. Nugent led the team with four steals while Cormier and Hill each had three steals each. Robert Hornsby had a double-double with 10 rebounds and 10 points.
“This week in practice the focus was defense,” said Williams.
Added Mickens, “After watching film from the first Orlando game we were a little hesitant and played their game. We had to play our game.”
Despite the win, some bad news happened during the game. Midway though the first quarter team captain Jerrod Tucker suffered a season ending achilles injury. Nugent and Rashad Faust also left the game with injuries.
“At halftime I threw the stat sheet on the ground and said that we have to win for Jerrod,” said Williams. “We had several other players that left the game with injuries and we are hoping that they heal up for the playoffs.”
Other newcomers were able to step in and emerge in position roles. Bowen, Cormier and Hill all assisted Mickens at the guard position, providing strong play. Hill landed three- three pointers with Bowen providing strong play inside. Cormier had 14 points and helped direct the offense a majority of the second half.
“This is professional basketball and everyone will step up,” said Mickens. “It’s the next man up.”
The Giants travel to St. Augustine on Wednesday night. A win on Wednesday will clinch the Division championship for the Giants.
The Giants will be back at the Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday, March 3rd, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. against the South Florida Gold. For more ticket information go to www.jacksonvillegiants.com or call 904-355-6531.