ZVVZ USK Prague gave their all but it wasn't nearly enough to upset two-time defending EuroLeague Women champions Spartak Moscow Region in the opening game of their Eighth-Finals showdown.
Lauren Jackson, Sylvia Fowles and Diana Taurasi had magnificent games for Spartak as they claimed a 102-86 triumph in Vidnoje.
Fowles and Taurasi, who captured gold medals at the Olympics last summer for the United States, had 27 and 23 points, respectively, while Australia superstar Jackson poured in 25 with a game-high 14 rebounds.
Prague will attempt to level the best-of-three tie on Friday night back in the Czech Republic.
Many teams are brushed aside early on when they go up against Spartak but Lubor Blazek's team had other ideas.
With Greece international Evanthia Maltsi scoring 15 of her 27 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, Prague kept the game close.
Lindsay Whalen hit a couple of three-pointers and fellow American Swin Cash scored at the end of the second quarter to leave Prague trailing 49-40.
When Jackson nailed a three nearly three minutes into the third quarter, Spartak looked ready to pull away but Katerina Elhotova and Cash, who is expected to leave Prague after the play-offs and return home to America, both hit shots from behind the arc to reduce the arrears to 56-48.
The visitors had no answer for Jackson, or Fowles, with the duo combining for Spartak's next eight points and a 64-50 advantage.
Spartak lowered the boom over the last 3:10 of the third quarter with Sue Bird drilling a three-ball that started a 12-2 run.
Spartak out-rebounded Prague 42-33.
Laszlo Ratgeber, Spartak Coach:
"We had to have a very good game in order to beat Prague and we will have to have an even better one in order to survive the upcoming battle in Prague. I would like to thank all my players, especially those who battled some injuries and gave 100% today. As always the justified the two stars that are on their uniforms."
Diana Taurasi, Spartak Player:
"It is always nice to win the first playoff game, especially when it is against a good team like Prague. It is a shame that only one of us will be able to reach the quarterfinals. We know that the game in Prague will be a great game but I fully trust my teammates and coaching staff."
Lubor Blazek, Prague Coach:
"I am proud of my girls but even though they tried there best, for many reasons (height difference etc) we lost to a very good team. We will be more ready in Prague and hopefully we will be back for one more shot to qualify."
Evanthia Maltsi, Prague Player:
"Spartak Moscow Region is always a tough opponent especially at its home court. We tried but today our effort was not enough to bring the desired result. But I am confident that we will return for a third game."