The New Zealand Breakers have their backs to the wall after going down 88-77 to Melbourne United in the first clash of their best of three NBL semi-final playoffs.
The result means the Breakers must win their return match against Melbourne in Auckland's Spark Arena on Monday night if they are to retain any hope of reaching the finals.
The Breakers stayed in the game against Melbourne for long periods, leading after the first quarter and sitting level at halftime.
But turnovers (15) and missed opportunities on offence proved too much against the firepower of the Ausrtralian side, who came home on the back of a season high 33 points from Casper Ware.
Best for the Breakers were DJ Newbill (19) and Shea Ili (16 points on 6 of 9 shooting), while Alex Pledger and Rakeem Christmas combined for 17 boards.
Fouls hurt the Breakers with the count 22-16 in favour of Melbourne.
The Breakers must win on Monday to keep their championship hopes alive and ensure veteran Kirk Penny, who will retire at the end of this season, does not end his decorated career with a semi-final exit.