Xinjiang snaps three-game skid as star center Zhou Qi returns

The Xinjiang Flying Tigers rode on a robust second-half performance of star center Zhou Qi to snap their three-game skid on Wednesday in the 2020-21 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league season, beating the Jiangsu Dragons 109-97.

Trailing by one point at the break, Xinjiang outscored Jiangsu 34-19 in the third quarter and maintained its advantage in the final period.

Zhou, who was out for a week after sustaining a foot injury against the Liaoning Flying Leopards on November 4, made an impressive comeback with a game-high 30 points and 18 boards. Qi Lin added 23 points.

Both teams traded advantages many times in the first half. After Qi made a pair of free throws, Xinjiang was 53-52 down at halftime.

Zhou began to show his value back from the locker room. The Chinese national team center scored seven points in Xinjiang's 10-0 run.

Jiangsu got the game back through consecutive three-pointers from Wang Hong and Wu Yujia, but Xinjiang once again raced ahead by scoring the next seven points and made the most of its balanced offense to go up 86-72 as the third quarter ran out.

Xinjiang went on to set up a 20-point cushion early in the final 12 minutes and withstood Jiangsu's late fightback to bring its recent unfavorable play to a halt.

Zeng Lingxu contributed 18 points, and Liu Lipeng had 15 for Xinjiang.

On the Jiangsu side, Wu Guanxi finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Wu Yujia and Shi Hongfei bagged 15 and 14 points respectively.

Both sides have one game remaining in the first phase of the CBA's regular season on Saturday. Xinjiang will play against the Nanjing Monkey Kings, while Jiangsu encounters the Beijing Royal Fighters.