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Oklahoma City Thunder: Serge Ibaka has provided a high rate of return

Thunder defensive specialist said he can continue to improve
by Darnell Mayberry Published: September 10, 2012

“Olajuwon is one of the best in NBA history, so for me it would be a great opportunity and very exciting to work with him,” Ibaka said.


Ibaka's NBA career began innocently enough, playing the last 2:53 of the first half in the second game of the season, which was a 91-83 victory at Detroit on Oct. 30, 2009.

He didn't see action again for 11 days, playing just 2:08 in a loss at Sacramento.

It was his third appearance the following night in an 83-79 victory at the Los Angeles Clippers that captured Brooks' attention.

Although Ibaka fouled out in just 15:35, he helped frustrate All-Star power forward Chris Kaman into a 9-for-26 night from the floor.

“Serge blocked shots, he scored and he really did a great job on Kaman, and that really opened up a lot of our eyes that this guy can do it consistently earlier than we thought,” Brooks said.

Seven of the first eight games Ibaka played as an NBA rookie were on the road.

Asked if he did that deliberately because there might have been more pressure on a 20-year-old playing at home, Brooks said: “No, I think it was just the way it worked out.”


Although Ibaka's English has improved greatly since he arrived three years ago, there were a couple of instances he paused Monday and asked reporters to clarify certain words.

“You know, every time when I go back to Spain, I spend like three months there speaking Spanish, I come back here and my accent is getting more stronger,” Ibaka said, shaking his head.


“I believe in God. I believe in me. I believe in my talent. I know if I keep working the right way, everything will come naturally. That's all I think about. I told my agent, ‘Just relax. I believe in myself. I know I can do it. I will keep working hard. I will get better and better.'” — Ibaka

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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