-Story by Matt Potak
Last spring the Jacksonville Giants hoisted up their fifth ABA Championship trophy following a thrilling, 119-114, win over the Texas based Austin Bats. The win over Austin was the icing on the cake for a spectacular season.The victory made history for the franchise, solidifying Jacksonville’s reputation as ABA’s “Title Town USA.” The Giants made ABA history as being the only team to win three consecutive ABA titles and are the only ABA organization to win five total championships.
The Giants will now take on the Austin Bats this Saturday night, in a rematch from last springs breathtaking ABA Championship win. The game will take place at the Veterans Memorial Arena. Tipoff is at 7PM. Last seasons game showcased a battle between two of the ABA’s most elite teams. This weekends game should be another epic battle for the local fan base to witness. The Bats will look to ruin the Giants undefeated season and get revenge from last seasons title game loss.
“Its an exciting matchup for all of our fans,” said Giants head coach Jerry Williams.
The Giants come into the game with a perfect 8-0 record. Jacksonville will lean on the strong play from reigning league MVP Maurice Mickens. Mickens has been on a fire this season, averaging over 30 points per game. Mickens is an explosive outside shooter that scores at a rapid pace in the fast tempo Giants offense. Mickens will be complemented by last years Finals MVP Bernard Nugent. Nugent has played great basketball this season and will be tough to stop offensively and defensively. Nugent is not only a top shooter but is also a physical defensive player.
“We just want to stay the course,” said Mickens.
Other veterans will help lead the way for Jacksonville. Calvin Warner, Jermaine “Slim” Bell and team captain Jerrod Tucker have had strong performances this season. These veterans will be familiar faces to the hometown crowd. Newcomer Miguel Paul is third on the team in points. Paul has proven himself on and off the court for the defending champs. Paul scored 19 points in Miami a few weeks ago and added 15 points in the Saturday win against St. Augustine.
The game will also be very fan friendly with an appealing family atmosphere at the Arena. Saturday night will feature in game activities for fans to participate in. Mascot Mr. Biggs, dance team members and players will be on site to sign autographs and take pictures, during the pre and post game festivities. The lively environment will feature a flashy halftime show. The Gems and Jewels dance teams will perform routines throughout the night.
Despite the Giants 8-0 record, due to league rules, Jacksonville can’t be ranked in the most recent ABA Power Rankings. In order to be ranked teams must have played at least 10 games on the current season. However, expect the Giants to be ranked soon.
ABA CEO Joe Newman released the latest statement:
“We have quite a few undefeated teams into the third month of the season and shortly both the Jacksonville Giants and South Florida Gold, both of which are undefeated, will have enough games to qualify for the Power Rankings. It should be a real battle.”