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Xinjiang's Abdusalam eager to rebound from ACL injury

Abdusalam Abdurexit of Xinjiang Flying Tigers reacts during the 36th round match against Zhejiang Lions at the 2020-2021 season of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league in Zhuji, east China's Zhejiang Province, Jan. 29, 2021. (Xinhua/Pan Yulong)

Returning from an ACL injury that rested him for nearly a year, CBA powerhouse Xinjiang captain Abdusalam hopes to recover his best form and help young players improve.

URUMQI, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- CBA's side Xinjiang Flying Tigers captain Abdusalam Abdurexit says he has healed from an ACL rupture and looks forward to being better in his comeback.

Injury has kept the Chinese international basketball forward off the court for over 350 days, who ruptured the ACL in his left knee after falling awkwardly during a CBA game between Xinjiang and the Beijing Ducks on December 25, 2019.

The 25-year-old was one of the hottest players in China, who can score, pass and create on the floor as a forward. "It was terrible and I have never been in a situation like this in my career," said Abdusalam.

"The rehab was tedious, I had to start from scratch and keep doing what I'm doing every day," he added.

Last August, Abdusalam returned to Xinjiang practice, and some clips of his workout soon went viral. On December 13, he made his comeback against the Tianjin Pioneers.

"If you realize what he had suffered, you will know it's a remarkable feat," Said Xinjiang coach Adiljan. "I'm excited to see Abdusalam play again."

Abdusalam Abdurexit (R) of Xinjiang Flying Tigers and head coach Adiljan look on during the 19th round match against Guangdong Southern Tigers at the 2020-2021 season of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league in Zhuji, east China's Zhejiang Province, Dec. 16, 2020. (Xinhua/Wu Zhuang)

As Abdusalam rehabbed, he returned to Xinjiang's starting lineup, averaging 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists over the last six games of CBA's second stage. "I've got to do what I've got to do. We have enough gifts and I'm not going to look to score first."

Several veterans left the squad during the last transfer window, and Adiljan plumped for Abdusalam as captain for this season, who's taking on the role of mentor to younger teammates and helping Xinjiang to keep a winning culture.

The role includes on-court and side conversations with 22-year-old forward Qi Lin, who has benefited from Abdusalam's tutelage. "Qi has been playing well and is very athletic, he's our team's future," said Abdusalam. "And my job is to help him and other younger players improve."

Abdusalam can still do things on the floor that reprise the past and he's matured a lot. But there is still a lot of work to be done. He's shooting 24.7 percent from 3-point range and that is far from his best.

"I'm aiming to be in a better place mentally and physically now, and I believe my comeback is just starting to scratch the surface."