London Lions found European powerhouse Hapoel Tel Aviv too strong on the day, as they lost their 7Days EuroCup game 76-59 in Israel on Tuesday evening.
Ryan Schmidt's team started slowly but matched the hosts for long spells in the final three periods and the performance will give the London side something to build on when they host Itlalian side, Dolomiti Energia Trento, next Tuesday at the Copper Box Arena, Stratford.
Tomislav Zubcic led the visitors with 21 points and rebounds while Kosta Koufos added a 14 point, ten-rebound double-double. Of concern to coach Schmidt will be Sam Dekker's injury which saw him limited to just five minutes of action, during which he scored five points.
It proved to be a baptism of fire for London early in the game as J'Covan Brown hit a pair of triples on his way to a team-high 19 points and Tomer Ginat also scored from downtown, before Dekker scored the visitors’ first point in the competition, albeit from the foul line.
Dekker added a pair of baskets before Zubcic scored the first of his team-high eight points in the opening half, and he took the lead down to single digits before Bar Timor sent the Israelis into the second period with a 24-13 lead.
Zabcic hit his fourth basket of the game with the opening score of the second quarter and Lions competed better in the period as a pair of Koufos scores kept them in touch. Mo Soluade took the margin down to ten, before Idan Zalmanson gave the hosts a 41-28 half-time lead.
Vojtech Hruban chipped two points off that deficit with the opening score of the second period, and Lions stayed in touch as Zabcic kept the deficit at 13 with five minutes gone; only to hit a triple, to make it an 11-point game a minute later.
Zabcic's triple saw Hapoel's led trimmed to 58-46 at the final break and Ovie Soko's basket off Luke Nelson's assist, made it 64-50 with five minutes on the clock.
But despite Zubcic's triple with 3:50 on the clock, Lions never got the deficit into single figures down the stretch and will look to record their first European victory of the season at the Copper Box next week.