Abdusalam's spectacular comeback propels Xinjiang to CBA summit

(Xinhua) 16:59, December 20, 2023

URUMQI, China, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Once sidelined by an ACL injury, big forward Abdusalam Abdurexit of the CBA's Xinjiang Flying Tigers has made a strong return with dazzling performances.

In December 2019, Abdusalam suffered the severe injury at the Cadillac Arena in Beijing, abruptly halting his burgeoning rise. Four years later, he claimed 28 points and ten rebounds on the same court, leading the Flying Tigers to a big win over the Beijing Ducks.

During his long injury lay-off, Abdusalam, who represented China's national team, found himself relegated to a spectator. At that time, few believed he could recapture his former glories.

At 27, Abdusalam refused to bid farewell to the national team. He focused on strengthening his core and developed a post-up game as a regular offensive weapon.

This season, Abdusalam has been on fire, averaging 18.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game, setting new career highs in both rebounds and assists. He also achieved the first triple-double by a domestic player this season, recording 19 points, 17 rebounds, and ten assists against the Fujian Sturgeons.

Xinjiang head coach Qiu Biao often terms Abdusalam as a leader.

"His impact on the court is unparalleled, and off the court, he is a role model," said Qiu.

Xinjiang bolstered its roster with the additions of talents like Zhao Rui and Dominique Jones during the off-season. With more support around him, Abdusalam has led Xinjiang to sweep away the shadows of the past two seasons, currently leading the league with a 15-3 win-loss record.

The Xinjiang captain attributes the team's unprecedented cohesion as the primary reason for their success.

"We are like a big family. Without the cohesion, we wouldn't have this kind of performance on the court," said Abdusalam.

When talented guard Zhao Rui faced an injury, Abdusalam wrote Zhao's name and jersey number on his shoes. With an outstanding performance, Abdusalam led the team to victory over the Guangdong Southern Tigers, carrying Zhao's strength with him.

"Zhao is one of our brothers, and we hope to move forward with his strength. We are also waiting for his return," Abdusalam noted.

Having won the league's Most Improved Player award twice, Abdusalam is now a top contender for the regular season MVP. However, he remains modest.

"MVP is not something I'm thinking about now. I'm solely focused on the team's achievements."

Drawing inspiration from Golden State Warriors legend Klay Thompson, Abdusalam said, "I want to win a championship just like Klay did after experiencing injuries."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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