Giants Survive First Round Scare, Eye ABA Championship
BEAUMONT, TX — Overcoming an 11-point deficit in the waning two minutes of play, the Jacksonville Giants (24-0) squeaked past the Gulf Coast Flash 123-119 on Wednesday evening in the double-elimination first round of the ABA’s “Final Four” Championship tournament in Winnie, Texas.
Jermaine Bell, the 7-foot string bean sensation who delighted crowds at Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Arena throughout the regular season, sparked the undefeated Giants by scoring 17 points while Sherrod “Hot Rod“ Harris, a lightning-quick 5’10” guard, proved deadly at the charity stripe, hitting six clutch free throws during a game-ending 14- 0 burst against the upset-minded Flash.
Anthony Lumpkin, a 6’1” guard who started last season for the Southeast Texas Mavericks, the defending ABA champions, hit three crucial free throws in the final 7.3 seconds to seal the victory for Jacksonville.
The Giants will play top-seeded Southeast Texas in tonight’s second round game at 9:30 Eastern Time. The Mavericks (30-1) are coming off a relatively easy 122-91 shellacking of the East Kentucky Energy on Wednesday night. Six Mavericks scored in double figures in their lopsided win.
East Kentucky, the second-seeded team in the East, will play the Gulf Coast Flash in tonight’s elimination game, two hours before the tip-off of the much-anticipated game between the Giants and the Mavericks.
The winner of the East Kentucky-Gulf Coast game will play the loser of the Jacksonville-Southeast Texas game on Saturday at 8:30 Eastern Time, with the winner of that game entering the best two-out-of-three ABA Championship finals against the winner of tonight’s game between the Giants and the Mavericks.
All of the games are being played at Nutty Jerry’s Entertainment Complex, a 60,000 square foot multi-purpose entertainment center built by wealthy oilman and promoter Jerry Nelson, the colorful owner of the Southeast Texas Mavericks.