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By Lu Wen’ao Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/10 22:58:39

Kirgiz basketball star has high ambitions

Korambek Makhan plays against the Australian basketball team in Beijing on May 10. Photo: CFP

Though left out from the national team's squad for the Rio Olympics, Xinjiang Flying Tigers basketball star Korambek Makhan said he is grown-up enough to accept it.

The Kirgiz small forward was involved in the national team's preliminary training squad in the buildup to the Summer Games, but missed the cut in the team's last buildups to the Rio Olympics.

"It is a pity but I made it to the final stages," Korambek told the Global Times. "Without my experiences in these years, I don't think I can walk away from depression so easily."

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, it's Olympics, you have to do your best in your preparation. You will feel regret if you do not do your best," said Korambek.

With Xinjiang Flying Tigers, Korambek made to the finals of China's top-tier league, the CBA, four times, but has never lifted the trophy.

He said he eyes the CBA championship every season, but also noted that next season he will take more responsibility for the team.

"We always want the championship," said the 24-year-old. "I think it's not myself, I need to take more responsibilities to help my teammates."

Though he is not among the veterans of the team, he has already started to share his experience with his younger teammates, including the 20-year-old Uyghur teammate Abudushalamu Abudurexiti.

"I often talked about my past experience with them," said Korambek. "I told them, just do the simplest thing, but with all your heart. That's the way to earn trust from your teammates and the coach."

Early start

Born in Artux City in the Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, Korambek started his professional career with the Flying Tigers when he was a senior high school student in 2008.

He scored an average of 5.8 points last season, where Xinjiang failed to make into the finals after losing the semifinals to the eventual champions Sichuan Blue Whales, a huge drop was seen of him from the previous 2014-15 season where he averaged 13.6 points.

But he insisted a strong and rotating squad made his court time decreased one-third from 2014-15 season.

"We had a very strong squad last season, and the substitutes went frequent to keep the players fresh for tough battles," he said.

Korambek left Xinjiang for Shanxi in the 2011-12 season through a player exchange program in the CBA. At Shanxi, he also earned applause from local fans.

"I did not want to leave Xinjiang," Korambek told the Global Times. "I had never been outside Xinjiang. I thought it would take a long time to get used to everything in Shanxi."

After his stay at Shanxi, the 1.98-­meter forward returned to Flying Tigers and helped the team reach their fourth CBA finals, only to be defeated by the Beijing Ducks 4-2.

In Flying Tigers, Korambek has experienced three managerial changes, but he said the three coaches have all been crucial for his personal development.

He debuted for Flying Tigers under Jiang Xingquan, a renowned and experienced coach, who taught him hard work would pay off. Veteran coach Jiang is known in China for his use of young players in the CBA.

Later Cui Wanjun, whom Korambek said made him more mature in the league and helped him perform at a higher level, led Xinjiang to their last CBA final appearance in 2013-14 season.

Current head coach Li Qiuping, who has had the job for just a year, has taught him to keep things in perspective as well as to carry the burden when things go against him.

"But all three have things in common: They are all rigorous but also earnest, helping us make the leap from ordinary to excellent players," said Korambek.

Serious injury

A horrible collision with an opponent during an international duty against Nigeria in 2013 left Korambek more than 50 stitches on his face, but he dismissed the injury.

"I'm not concerned about it … I've been through a lot of things, this is not an excuse for me," Korambek said.

He played the following 2013-14 season with a mask protection on his face.

The injury didn't deter ­Korambek from his national duty, as he said it is always honored to be summoned to represent China, though missing the roster for the major competitions in the last two years.

"The result won't change my belief," said ­Korambek.

"Being summoned to the national training sessions also helped me improve. The gains in the national team are precious."

But he also noted that his mental strength must improve before he can take his techniques to a new level.

He also said the prejudice against Xinjiang as unsafe must end.

"One should never consider things in a one-sided way," said the Kirgiz forward. "Xinjiang is rich in natural resources and culture thanks to its products and the minorities. People are enthusiastic and optimistic.

"The terrorist attacks are rare and led by a handful of individuals, they are not representing Xinjiang nor the minorities."

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