Russians foil Towers

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Despite forcing a 68-68 draw in the second leg of their tie against Autodor Saratov in Moscow last night, London Towers failed to reach the last 16 of the European Cup by just five points on aggregate, writes Richard Taylor.

Towers held a five-point lead towards the end of the first half at 27- 22, but they paid a high price for a technical foul against Danny Lewis, who was benched for the rest of the period, allowing Saratov to lead 35- 34 at the break.

With just five minutes left, Towers, trailing 75-70 from last week's first leg at Wembley, were 60-50 down before an inspired 15-3 run capped by a Paul Deppisch three-pointer and a dunk from Joe Hooks put them 65- 63 ahead.

Gintaras Einikis scored a basket and a free throw to put Saratov one point ahead on the night and six clear on aggregate, but veteran Alan Cunningham made a three-pointer with 22 seconds on the clock, putting London another three-pointer away from forcing overtime.

However, they were denied by Sergei Maltsev, who scored two free throws after being fouled to tie the game and put Saratov through 143-138 on aggregate.