FC Barcelona and CSKA Moscow played a very intense game at Palau Blaugrana in their Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season-opener. When the dust settled, Barcelona had won 76-66 and Alex Abrines had a critical performance. He finished the game with 13 points and a career-high 7 rebounds. He had never grabbed more than 5 rebounds in a EuroLeague game.
Not only did he have a strong game, but Abrines also stepped up when his team needed him most. CSKA rallied from a 14-point deficit to get within 57-55 early in the third quarter, but Abrines buried an open three-pointer and then provided a highlight with a put-back slam-and-one that restored a 63-55 Barcelona lead. CSKA never recovered after that.
Abrines is playing some of his best basketball right now after a couple of rough years in which he decided to temporarily quit basketball due to depression. "It doesn't matter if you are Bill Gates or unemployed, these problems can happen to anyone. People must know that with the help of professionals, friends and family, you can carry on," he said in July 2019.
When Abrines decided to quit basketball, Barcelona immediately offered help. Abrines had played for the club for four seasons after joining the team in his late teens.
"It took me two or three months to think about basketball again," he said. "Barcelona worried about me when my personal problems started and put the person first, ahead of the basketball player. For that, I will always be thankful. I needed to play where I could enjoy playing basketball again and for me, there was no better place than this club."
Abrines has been unstoppable this season. He is seeing more playing time than initially expected because the other sharpshooter in the team, Kyle Kuric, is sidelined for several weeks. He is averaging 17.3 points in Spanish League action on 56.3% shooting from downtown. Against CSKA, Abrines buried 3-of-5 three-point shots and played over 32 minutes, a team-high.
Most important, Abrines is back to his best and enjoying what he does. It is easy to see him with a smile on his face and this is great news for him - and for basketball in general.