Photograph by Gary McCullough.2017 started with a bang for the defending ABA National Champion Jacksonville Giants. The Giants started fast and furious in a decisive 134-105 win over the Daytona Beach Sharks. For a majority of the game, Jacksonville kept a double-digit lead over Daytona Beach. 

Forward Robert Hornsby had a game-high 18 points for the Giants while adding six rebounds. Hornsby used a powerful inside shooting game to disrupt the Shark defense. Jermaine Bell also contributed with a season-high 17 points. Bells early scoring extended the Giants lead to 43-26 at the conclusion of the first quarter. The former 2014 ABA MVP also contributed strong on the boards with a season and team-high 15 rebounds.

Jacksonville had a comfortable 74-50  halftime lead but continued to produce a strong offense output for the remainder of the game. The Giants outscored Daytona 33-20 in the third quarter thanks to some impressive outside shooting from guards Ed Horton and 2016 All-ABA Maurice Mickens. Both Horton and Mickens combined for 26 points in the contest. 

Defensively Jacksonville remained strong with aggressive play from Elijah Smith and team captain Jerrod Tucker. The tenacious defensive play kept Daytona pressured throughout the game, ending any chance of a comeback. Dontay Sheppard and Sherrod Harris both had 15 points each for Daytona. 

Jacksonville will be back in action on Sunday in another matchup with Daytona Beach. Tipoff is at 2 pm.