Liege BC drew first blood in their EuroChallenge Qualifying Round 1 tie with Bakken Bears on Monday with a 67-55 victory in Denmark.
But they will not be a celebratory mood after allowing the Bears to claw back a deficit that was once 22 points to just 12 by the end of the game.
The Bears trailed 61-39 with 6:23 to go and were still behind at 63-43 with 4:07 remaining but continued to fight to give themselves a glimmer of hope when the second leg is played in Belgium.
Jerald Fields had 18 points and Justin Cage 16 for Liege, who held Bakken to 20 of 56 (35.7%) shooting inside the arc.
Liege hit 21 of 42 (50%) of their own shots from two-point range.
The Belgians got their noses in front for good late in the first quarter.
The game was knotted at 11-11 when Cage buried a three-pointer and followed that up with a lay-up before Christopher Hill drilled a three.
After Eric Poole split a pair of free throws 1:18 into the second quarter, Liege had a 20-11 advantage and they stayed on top the rest of the way.
Chris Christoffersen had 21 points and 11 rebounds in defeat for Bakken.
Coach Tom Johnson (Liege):
"We knew it was going to be a difficult game and Bakken did well to make sure that it was difficult for us. They played some unconventional defense and that caused us some problems. We didn't react very well to that. They forced us to shoot longe range shots and they slowed our tempo down. But we did manage to make some runs and I think that made the difference.
"I think Justin Cage had a good game, but everyone chipped in and that's what we need. We don't have one player that can take it over and win the game on his own.
"The second game in a two game aggregate is always going to be different from the first game. I expect that Bakken will make some adjustments and so will we. I expect a good second game in Belgium."
Coach Mads Sigersted (Bakken Bears)
"Defensively we did a decent job, but we have poblems scoring, especially in the first half. I think we finished the game in a reasonable manner, getting the ball inside to Chris Christoffersen.
"Rebounding was a big issue in our locker room at the half time break. We were outrebounded in the first half and I was not happy with that. We did a better job rebounding in the second half, and I was happy to see that.
"We're are going to have to do some things differently in the second game. First of all, we are not stable enough. We need to stabilise our game. Our opponents play at a stable level throughout the game, and we're going up and down a lot."
Jerald Fields (Liege), 18 points, 7 rebs:
"I think it was a well played game. They have a very strong team, but we played a very good game and managed to stay on top throughout.
"It was a pretty good game for me. I think I could have played a little bit better, but what's important is the win."
Chris Christoffersen (Bakken Bears), 21 points, 11 rebs:
"It was a messy first half on our part. We never got in control offensively, but did okay defensively. Our rebounding was poor in the first half, but that imroved in the second half and so did our offense.
"They were all strong and fast and made us work very hard for each point.
"Of course, we believe that we have a chance of going through to the next round. It's obviously not a big chance, but we have to believe in it. Otherwise there would be no point in going to Belgium."