Each season the Jacksonville Giants give back to their St. Augustine community by playing an offsite game in the “Nations Oldest City.” The Five time defending ABA National Champions did not disappoint, energizing the local fan base in a 187-75 win over the visiting Shizuoka Gym Rats. Jacksonville showcased basketball skills that inspired the standing room only crowd at the St. Joseph Academy gymnasium.
“Tonight started a little slow but once we settled in and played Giants basketball we were good,” said Giants head coach Jerry Williams.
The St. Augustine locals witnessed a lively professional basketball atmosphere. The Giants halftime show appealed to the crowd with multiple events. The Jewels and Gems dance teams performed high energy routines during the contest. Giants mascot Mr. Biggs ran around the gymnasium while signing autographs and taking pictures with young kids. Various in game activities, for young fans, also occurred. Overall, the defending ABA National Champions left a strong impression in all phases of the game.
“We got the tempo going good,” said Williams.
The Giants took an early lead on the Gym Rats and didn’t look back. Shooting Guard Bernard Nugent opened the first quarter scoring 10 points and added four rebounds. Reigning league MVP Maurice Mickens compiled six first quarter points, both on crowd pleasing three pointers. Mickens ended the game with 34 total points and also landed six total three pointers. The Internationally known Gym Rats were able to land a few late shots, before the closure of the first quarter, cutting the deficit to 28-18. Kodai Kawachi led Shizuoka with 19 points.
“We just want to stay the course,” said Mickens. “We just have to get prepared for March. I always say that March and April is when it counts.”
The turning point in the game for Jacksonville came in the second quarter when the Giants outscored the Gym Rats 56-14. The deficit overwhelmed the Japan-based team. The fast paced offensive tempo became too much for the Gym Rats. On multiple occasions it wasn’t uncommon to see Giants players scoring wide open baskets. Mickens and Nugent continued the strong guard play. Jacksonville played tough on the boards out-rebounding Shizuoka 37-28 in first half.
The Giants continued to dominate in the second half, outscoring the Gym Rats 60-24 in the third quarter. Chris Brown converted two strong slam dunks with Mickens landing four three pointers. The fourth quarter remained the same with Jacksonville staying in cruise control. Calvin Warner (33 points) and Deangelo Stephens-Bell (23 points) rounded out the top scorers for Jacksonville.