Strauss Iscar Nahariya's hopes of making the 2005 FIBA Europe League Final Four improved considerably on Wednesday night as they took game one of their quarter-final play-off series against BC Kyiv.
Nahariya, who fell at the quarter-final stage of last year's competition to Ural Great, edged a close game which was only decided in the final minutes.
|Amit Ben David|
The game always promised to be a close affair, although it was Nahariya who forged ahead, leading by as many as 11 points in the third quarter.
Kyiv closed the third with a 5-1 run of their own and trailed 68-74 going into the final quarter.
It was Kyiv who continued their good play after the break, and a pair of free throws from Kresimir Loncar gave them their first lead of the game since the 7th minute (79-81).
But Nahariya struck back immediately and Ben David was the reason. He had a hand in the next 3 baskets, dishing to Eric Campbell for an open three-pointer, then finding Adrian Pledger for an easy two before finally making a lay-up of his own.
The surge gave Nahariya a 5-point gap (86-81) and although Kyiv got to within 2 points, the home side made 5/6 free throws to seal the win.
Pledger added 18 points to Ben David's 20 and Erez Markovich and Eric Campbell added 15 apiece.
Lamarr Greer led Kyiv with 23 points.