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Miami advances to Championship Series with 121-106 win over Jacksonville

(All photos courtesy Miami Midnites)

Thursday, April 9th

(Shreveport, LA.) – Upstart and third-seeded Miami, in its first season in the ABA, outscored three-time ABA champion Jacksonville 61-43 in the second half, propelling the Midnites into the Championship Series with a 121-106 victory Thursday night at historic Hirsch Memorial Coliseum on the Louisiana State Fairgrounds.

The Midnites advance to face the defending champion and top-seeded Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks in the best two-of-three Championship Series that begins Saturday at 7 p.m. at Hirsch. Sunday’s contest will tip off at 4 p.m., and Monday’s game (if necessary) is slated for a 7 p.m. start time.

“I first of all want to give thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the opportunity to have this experience in the ABA Finals,” said Miami head coach Damon Wilcox with a wide smile after his Midnites beat the second-seeded Giants for the fourth time in six meetings this season. “This has been such an amazing experience for every member of this franchise. We have a big job left ahead of us, but we’re in position to win a title, and I can’t be any happier than I am right now.”

After a nip-and-tuck first half that saw Jacksonville build leads of as many as nine points, Wilcox lit up his team in the locker room, and they responded with their “best second half of the season”.

“Since this is a PG-rated show, I won’t say what I said to the guys at halftime,” said a coy Wilcox. “Needless to say, I said some strong things, and we responded. We played great in the second half, and that gives us the chance to win it all now.”

Midnites center Will Frisby dominated inside, scoring 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting with 10 rebounds as Miami (19-5) outscored the Giants (28-6) 62-30 in the paint.

“That’s what they brought me in here for,” said Frisby. “We saw what they were doing early, and Coach put it on me to go out and make my presence known. It was a good night for me. I was able to impose my will on their inside guys, especially in the second half.”

Frisby had plenty of help.

Energetic guard Kenny Bellinger erupted for 16 second-quarter points on his way to a 28-point, seven-rebound performance. 

“We needed all we got from Kenny,” said Wilcox. “He had a great game, and we needed all of it.”

Ray Taylor joined Frisby and Bellinger in double figures for Miami with 16 points.

The Giants were led by speedy point guard Maurice Mickens, who finished with a team-high 24 points and four assists. Swingman Jerrod Tucker contributed 18 points and nine rebounds, and scrappy guard Sherrod Harris added 15 points and five boards.

“We just didn’t get it done tonight,” said Jacksonville head coach Kevin Waters, the second all-time winningest coach in ABA history. “Hats off to those guys. We didn’t play our best basketball this year in the Finals. Plain and simple. I wish we had done better, but the whole Finals experience this year has been great for all of our guys.”

***** For a complete list of ABA Finals events and game schedule, visit sbmavs.com or abafinals.com.
 
***** Tickets for the Finals can be purchased at abafinals.com or the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum box office. Call 318/631-4930 for more ticket information. 
 
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