|Young Russia international Dmitry Kulagin had 20 points in Triumph's agonising victory |
Triumph Lyubertsy saw their 19-point lead over Okapi Aalstar cut to just one in the fourth quarter but held on for victory on the opening day of the EuroChallenge Regular Season.
The Russian outfit, which had to go through the Qualifying Round to reach the competition, won the Group F game 83-78.
Veteran shooting guard/small forward Artem Kuzyakin led Triumph with 24 points and seven rebounds.
Dmitry Kulagin, one of the bronze-medal winning players for Russia at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia, also had 20 points.
Triumph appeared to be on their way to a blowout of Okapi when Tywain McKee nailed his only three-ball of the game for a 55-36 advantage early in the third quarter.
Bradley Dean's team outscored the hosts 23-10 over the last 7:43 of the frame, though, to trail 65-59.
Christopher Copeland, who was crucial in the comeback for Okapi, then scored twice at the beginning of the fourth quarter to cut the Triumph lead to 65-63.
A three-pointer by Nate Fox of Aalstar left his team down 69-68 with 7:28 to go.
Kulagin, who was voted to the all-tournament team at the U19 World Championship, answered with a three-ball of his own and Daniil Solovev sank two free-throws to stretch the lead back to six.
The Russian team kept their noses in front the rest of the way.
Justin Holiday and Stefan Jackson each had 12 points and eight rebounds for Okapi, with the former also claiming four of his team's 16 steals.