BC Strumica battled but weren't able to knock classy Lokomotiv Rostov off the rails in their EuroCup encounter on Tuesday.
The Russian team, behind 20 points from Kresimir Loncar and 19 from Anthony Goldwire, prevailed 67-57 and now have a huge advantage in the fight for a place in the Qualifying Round with the second leg to be played in Rostov next week.
Jovica Arsic's Strumica seemed to always be playing catch-up in this encounter, falling behind by as many as nine points late in the first quarter.
In the second, however, the team from FYR Macedonia showed its relentless spirit and clawed its way back to twice take one-point leads at 23-22 and, after a three-ball from Dime Tasovski, at 28-27.
Once Dramir Zibirov had sunk two free throws, though, Lokomotiv had the lead for good.
Nestoras Kommatos followed with a lay-up for his first two points of the contest and Sergey Vorotnikov then pulled up for a three-pointer, to move ahead at 34-28.
Strumica, who won a thrilling Elimination Round 1 showdown with Cedevita Zagreb to reach this stage, managed to keep the deficit to five points as late as the 7:05 mark in the fourth quarter.
That is when Rostov pulled clear.
A pair of Goldwire free throws and Vorotnikov's third shot from behind the arc in as many attempts reclaimed the momentum for the visitors and they ended up with a 10-point victory.
Eftim Bogojev scored 16 points to lead Strumica while Loncar had 13 rebounds to go with his points haul.
Lokomotiv were 10 of 11 (90.9%) from the line while Strumica finished four of six (66.6%).
Oleg Meleschenko's team also managed to win despite 17 turnovers compared to just seven for Strumica.