Hapoel Jerusalem earned a 62-59 road win versus Belgacom Liege in the first leg of the Eurocup Qualifying Round in Belgium on Tuesday.
Hapoel will try to hold on to its small point margin at home on October 5 to book its ticket to the Eurocup Regular Season.
Willie Solomon led Hopoel with a game-high 15 points to go along with 5 rebounds. Jason Rich and Brian Randle contributed to the victory with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Cedric Bozeman notched 14 points for Liege, while Thomas Raivio chipped in with 12 points and Taylor Griffin added 9 points and 5 boards.
A low scoring and defensive first quarter ended with Hapoel ahead 14-13.
The second period saw the offenses open up, and Solomon made his first shot (a three-pointer) with a little under five to play in the half to push Hapoel's lead to 26-18.
Raivio made a three-pointer to pull Liege back, put Rich sent Hapoel into the halftime break up 33-26 with a jumper as the buzzer sounded.
With Hapoel up by four, Raivio score back-to-back baskets followed by a Leonard Matela triple to grab a 45-42 lead for the home team heading into the fourth.
Solomon scored four points and Rich added a layup to claim a 48-47 advantage with over six to play.
The teams traded baskets down the stretch till Solomon made a three-pointer and added a foul shot with under a minute to go to ensure his team the win.
The game was marked by poor free-throw shooting from both squads. Liege went 10 of 18 and Hapoel 13 of 23 to effectively cancel out one another.
Hapoel Jerusalem player Uri Kokia:
"The game was extremely defensive and very close. We won but there are two games to play."
Jerusalem Head Coach Oded Katache:
"The First game of the season for a young team. It was very difficult and we have to analyse our percentages in free throws and 3 points. Many points have to be improved."
Liège Player Leonard Matela:
"For the first game, it was a top match. We played a very good third quarter to stay in the game. Experience in the European game is very important."
Liège Head Coach:
"It is a new team without experience of the European game. We played very good defense in the first quarter but we have to work to improve the quality of our play. "