Melbourne, Mar 13 (UNI) Despite the whitewash to hosts New Zealand, Indian male cagers learnt valuable lessons and put up a defiant show in the final of the three-match basketball series in Auckland ahead of their campaign in the Commonwealth Games.
Trailing by 30 points at breather, captain Trideep Rai led from the front scoring 22 points, as India bridged the gap with the Tall Blacks, as the Kiwi male side is known as, and the visitors eventually went down 70-96.
In the first two games, India's coach Zoran Lukic fielded his starting five for a brief period and instead gave the youngsters a chance to prove their mettle against a far superior side.
Clearly impressed by the Indian team's attitude, Tall Blacks coach Tab Baldwin said, ''The way they played, they are certainly able to challenge the teams in their pool at Melbourne, probably not Australia, and might have a shot at grabbing the second spot for the semifinals.'' Trideep Rai was the pick of the Indians and he found support from Sozhasingarayer Robinson (11) and Jagdeep Singh (10) while Casey Frank led New Zealand with 18 points.
Indian female cagers, however, proved no match for the Kiwi eves -- the Tall Ferns who thrashed the minnows 101-50 to blanked India 3-0 in the series.
Six Tall Ferns recorded double figures in the match, while Geethu Anna Jose (19) was the leading scorer for the visiting side. The host side led 42-19 at half time.
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