Tartu Rock are just one victory away from a spot in the EuroCup Final Four after holding on to edge Ural Great 78-75.
The Perm team, whose coach Drazen Anzulovic unexpectedly quit on Sunday to leave for Belgium side Charleroi, travelled to Estonia and fought bravely from start to finish but lost and must now win game two in their own arena in a weeks time to keep the series alive.
Rock, arguably the surprise team in the EuroCup after topping Qualifying Round Group A with five wins and just one defeat, led 69-54 early in the fourth quarter and looked to be cruising to decisive victory.
Ural Great had led 54-53, but Rock reeled off 16 unanswered points for that 15-point advantage.
The Russian team, under care-taker coach Roman Dvinyaninov, stormed back.
Brindley Wright and Alexey Zozulin hit back-to-back three-balls to make it 69-60.
Ural Great chipped away and cut the deficit to 71-66, only for Rock's Brian Cusworth to dunk and restore a
|Brian Cusworth had 13 points in the win for Tartu.|
Rock appeared to be doing just enough to claim the win when a three-point play by Andrew Wisniewski closed the gap to 78-75 with 34 seconds remaining.
Gert Kullamäe, who had buried four of seven shots from behind the arc, missed from long range with 11 seconds remaining and Vanja Plisnic went up for his sixth rebound to give Ural Great a chance to pull level.
But Wright launched a three-ball attempt with two seconds to go and was off target, and Rock rebounded to preserve the victory.
Tanel Tein, one of Rock's Estonia national team players, was outstanding in the game and particularly in the 16-0 run that put them in front for good.
He hit a couple of threes and scored eight of the points in that surge.
Tein's 18 points led Rock, while fellow guard George Tsintsadze of Georgia had 16 and both American center Cusworth and Estonia veteran Kullamäe 13.
It's not often that a team loses despite dominating the boards, but that happened to Ural Great.
They won the rebounding battle 43-30 but it was to no avail.
Plisnic had a game-high 19 points and connected on five of seven from long range for Ural Great.