Seasoned EuroLeague Women campaigners Frisco Sika Brno grabbed the upper hand in their Eighth-Final Play-Off with Rivas Ecópolis on Tuesday by winning the opening game of the best-of-three tie in Spain.
In a very spirited performance, Jan Bobrovsky's side put their Czech Cup Final defeat to USK Prague from the weekend behind them and prevailed 88-83.
Taj McWilliams led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the victors, who played with just six players.
|Taj Mc Williams had a double double in the win against Rivas|
Point guard Zuzan Zirkova and center Petra Kulichova are both out of action with injuries.
Hana Horakova and Eva Viteckova - Czech internationals and members of Brno's EuroLeague Women title winning side of 2006 - scored 21 and 19 points, respectively.
Frisco got their noses in front early and built a comfortable 55-43 advantage by half-time.
The advantage ballooned to 61-43 early in the third after a McWilliams jumper and then Brno extended the lead to 67-48 on a basket by Viteckova.
Behind by 19 entering the fourth quarter, Rivas went on a 10-2 run to pull to with 73-61 and with 1:41 to go, the home fans began to hope when a Crystal Langhorne jump shot cut the visitors' advantage to 84-78.
After the teams traded baskets, Begonia Garcia made a three-pointer in the waning moments for Rivas to reduce the arrears to 88-83 but that's how it finished.
Losers of four straight in the EuroLeague, Rivas will look to stay alive when they travel to the Czech Republic for Friday's Game 2.
Langhorne had 23 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.
Brno head coach Jan Bobrovsky:
"The match has been played as we wanted and I think we didn't have many difficulties. The key of the match has been our good defense and a good shooting system too. I consider we have been on our best basketball today and definitely this one had been the most important factor today."
Brno forward Eva Viteckova:
Our good defense have permitied us to make some differences at the begining and we have been able to keep that difference until the end of the match.. We expected to have bigger problems with Rivas Ecopolis defense but finally we could make our offensive systems.
Rivas head coach Javier Fort:
"Brno made very good shots at the first and second halfs and when we could change their speed we had our best chances to win. What I expect for the next game is to take get our best basketball again for trying to equalize this qualifying round."
Rivas guard Elin Eldebrin:
"We haven´t been at our usual level of defense and this has been one of the keys of the match. I hope the team will show it usual face and to have the chance of playing the third game at home."