Deixa Mons-Hainaut held off Trefl Sopot 74-71 in the first leg of the Eurochallenge Qualifying Round in Belgium on Tuesday.
In a tug-of-war affair, the home side pulled out a close win and will try to make their slim advantage pay off on October 5 in the second and deciding game in Poland.
Deixa's Marcus Hatten and Ronald Lewis tied for a game-high 18 points, while Quincy Taylor chipped in with 12 points for the winners.
Point guard Giedrius Gustas led Sopot with 17 points. Filip Dylewicz tallied a game-high 13 rebounds and added 10 points, while Adam Waczynski scored 13 points.
Deixa got out of the gates with a strong first quarter led by Hatten's early 9 points. The guard's fastbreak layup put his team ahead 23-10 heading into the second.
Sopot was facing a 12-point hole with five minutes to play in the first half, but they responded with a 13-0 run, including 6 points from Gustas, to grab the lead at 32-31 with a little under two minutes before the break.
The game went back and forth in the second half with Sopot not able to get more than a five-point lead till a Dylewicz jumper put them up 64-59 with under seven to play.
But Deixa closed the gap once more, and Lewis made a three-pointer and went one-of-two from the free-throw line to put the home team in front 72-69 with 1:18 to play.
Gustas scored inside (72-71), but Hatten sealed the win by responding with a layup on Deixa's next possession with only 15 seconds left on the clock.
Trefl Sopot head coach Karlis Muiznieks: "Very happy of the result."
"We knew it would be very difficult against a team which had already proved during the last years it was able to do good things. In fact,it was a tough game and my players never became nervy when their opponents took the lead in the first quarter by eleven points. I asked them to put more attention on the fight for rebounds, and also to play well in fast breaks for putting their hosts in problems, and this way of playing allowed us to reverse the result at the half time. After,it was easy to keep calm, and by the way, we have all our chances for the second leg, but everything is possible, and we'll have to be concentrated!"
Sopot Player Filip Dylewicz: "A very tough game"
"Dexia was a good team with much experience in the European cups,and we knew that we have to stop them offensively. But during the first quarter, a lot of turnovers, and many easy shoots gave our hosts the opportunity to be in trust. Thanks to a good defence, we reversed the score, and we came up to the coach's expectation by applying the instructions. Now,we know we have to win by more than three points, but at home, and with our supporters, everything is possible."
Dexia Mons-Hainaut Head Coach Arik Shivek: "A good first quarter,but after..."
"We began the game fantasticly as far as defence is concerned,and we were very good in offense, but I don't know what happened after...Certainly due to the fouls, and also the changes I had to do. We knew up and downs, but also, it was impossible to stay concentrated in giving our hosts so many second chances in the shots!
With twelve rebounds more, Sopot provided the opportunity to stay ahead, and it's a good thing we succeeded in reversing the situation in the last minutes.
From time to time, I didn't recognize the team of the last weeks,but I say my players are able to play better, and why not, to win in Poland and reach the next round?"
Dexia Player Marcus Hatten: "Another kind of game!"
"As many as games of preparation were good, as much this one was difficult. It's certainly due to the context of the EuroChallenge all the players were discovering for the first time except for Libert or Jusin Cage.
I know we've made many mistakes,and also we did a bad selection of shots, but the defence of Sopot was very strong, and their big players put us in problems.
Now,we have one week to prepare the second leg,but we don't forget that we also begin the championship saturday,and it's also important for the staff."