Jacksonville, FL – An exciting regular season finale with a playoff atmosphere delighted the fans at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. An evening that featured Military Appreciation night, helped inspire the four-time defending ABA National Champions. The #1 ranked Giants defeated rival #7th ranked South Florida Gold, 129-106, in the final game of the regular season. The game also featured First Coast News Anchor Jeannie Blaylock, as the Giants‘ Honorary Captain and Action News Sports Anchor Brent Martineau as the Giants‘ 13th man. Jacksonville finishes the regular season at 19-1 and have automatically clinched a first round bye into the ABA Playoffs. 

“I was very proud of the way we responded in the second half,” said head coach Jerry Williams. 

Early in the first half South Florida played strong, at one point leading the Giants by 13 points. Jacksonville was able to regroup and improve to regain the lead late in the first quarter. Guards Maurice Mickens and Bernard Nugent helped bring the Giantsback. Mickens had 15 first half points and ended the game with 26 with Nugent scoring 19 points. Nugent had a double-double with 19 points, 13 assists and also heavily contributed on defense with five steals. The Gold, however, went into halftime with a  53-51 lead. Christopher Cromartie led South Florida with 44 points. 

“It was a playoff atmosphere,” said Williams. “Those are the type of games that you need to play to prepare for the postseason. ”

Following halftime, the Giants regained the lead and never looked back. Multiple players lit up the scoreboard for the Giants. Newcomers Dylon Cormier and Jeremiah Hill landed long range 3-pointers, Larry Dumas also contributed with strong outside shooting. Fans also became thrilled when Jermaine Bell, Rashad Faust, Elijah Smith and Delwan Graham had big slam dunks in the game. 

“We just needed to execute better,” said assistant coach Marcus Thomas.

Bell was named the nights player of the game, having a double-double on the evening with 16 points and 10 rebounds. 

“Halftime was big,” said Bell. “Coach told us that we had to play better and we wanted to have no regrets.”

The Giants will now turn their attention to the ABA playoffs, which take place in Austin, Texas the first week of April. The Giants have received a bye intol the Elite 8, meaning if they win the first game they will advance to semifinals, then another win sends them to the finals. 

“The tournament is single elimination style,” said Williams. “If you lose one game the season is over. If we win three games, we are Champions. We plan on practicing hard for the month of March with two a days and everything else we need.”

“We are going to work very hard getting ready for the playoffs,” said Bell, who has been with the Giants for all the ABA Championships. “I want to add that fifth ring.

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