|Miha Zupan was good for 7 points in only 8 minutes in Spartak's close win|
ETHA ENGOMI may have lost the game but they gave themselves a great chance of reaching the Eurocup with a terrific fourth-quarter comeback against Spartak St Petersburg on Wednesday evening.
The first leg of the Qualifying Round tie was played in Nicosia, Cyprus, and Spartak prevailed 60-59.
But Jure Zdovc's players will be thinking they should have claimed an even bigger margin of victory since they led 50-36 late in the third quarter and 55-47 midway through the fourth.
Helping ETHA dig themselves out the big hole in the last five minutes of the contest were Shawn Ray, Dejan Cup and Thomas Massamba.
Ray, who had a team-high 15 points, scored two of them on a jumper to close the gap to 60-55 with 2:41 to go.
Cup then followed with a driving lay-up to trim the deficit to 60-57.
Fouled on the play, he missed the free-throw.
Massamba then drew a foul by Patrick Beverley with 1:01 to go and sank two free-throws to make it 60-59.
Both sides had opportunities to score at the end but failed, including Spartak's Nikola Dragovic when his shot from the arc was off target.
Patrick Okafor weighed in with 10 points and five rebounds and Cup finished with eight points and eight boards.
For first-leg winners Spartak, Israel international Yotam Halperin had a game-high 16 points.
The return leg will be played in Russia next week.
Spartak Head Coach Jure Zdovc:
"Congratulations to Etha for tonight. We know that Etha is a very strong and offensive team. We did not underestimate them. We know they play very good especially when they play abroad. We have to wait and see the next game's result."
Spartak Player Patrick Beverly:
"Etha is a very strong team with amazing players especially the guards. Congratulations for their appearance tonight and we hope to win again in the next game in Russia."
Etha Head Coach Antonis Constantinides:
"First I have to congratulate Spartak for their win, but I also wanty to congratulate my players for their appearance. We lost out concentration in the first half and that's what I told my players in the locker room. We have to be more concentrated and believe in our abilities. We are going to Russia next week to win the game."
Etha Player Thomas Massamba:
"At the beginning, nobody believed in us, but we believed. I also would like to congratulate Spartak for their win tonight. I want to thank Etha and my two coaches for bringing me back this season and for giving me the opportunity to play in the Eurocup competition. Not so many players have this kind of opportunity and as our assistant coach said, only half the game is over and nothing is finished."