The reigning and defending ABA champions had something to prove on Saturday night in their rematch with Palm Beach. The Giants lost their season opening game back in December to the previously undefeated Palm Beach Stampede. The loss motivated the Giants all season, leading to a commanding 127-97 win over the Stamped in the rematch on Saturday night. The victory gives Jacksonville their 14th straight win and also hands the Stampede their first loss of the season.
The game featured Military Appreciate Night, showcasing the amazing Military professions. In addition, the Naval Hospital Color guard, under the direction of Richard Romero, we’re involved with the pregame flag ceremony. The St. John’s Academy Choir performed the National Anthem, under the direction of Kris Kelly. The performance was amazing in front of a large crowd at the UNF Arena.
The GameDay atmosphere was also electric. A large crowd gathered at the Arena to see a battle between the 13-0 Stamped and the 13-1 Giants. Jacksonville had a pregame ring ceremony to celebrate the 2021-22 Championship team. The Giants also invited the dance teams at Tocoi Creek and Pedro Menendez High School to perform during the game.
As expected, the first half was an intense battle between two of the ABAs elite. Physical play was demonstrated by both teams. Pressure defense was what separated the Giants and gave them a 57-47 halftime lead. Jacksonville pressured Palm Beach into poor shooting attempts and multiple turnovers. Elijah Smith had three first half blocks with Maurice Mickens and Miguel Paul adding six combined steals.
The game was very close until the third quarter. The Giants went on a huge run and were virtually unstoppable. Maurice Mickens was named player of the game. Mickens took charge and led the team with a game high 32 points. Most notably, Mickens shot 92% from the free throw line, going 12-13. Bernard Nugent (24 points), Brandon Davis (17 points), Elijah Smith (16 points), Miguel Paul (15 points), and Aaron Bowen (13 points) all rounded out the scoring leaders for Jacksonville.
Smith, Bowen, and Rob Hornsby were incredible with their inside play. All three showcased some impressive slam dunks, creating energy for the crowd. As a team, the Giants had 42 total rebounds and shot 79% from the free throw line while converting ten total steals.
Jacksonville returns to the court on Saturday, March 5th at 6pm. Jacksonville will take on Alabama in the regular season finale. For ticket information please check out www.jacksonvillegiants.com