IN THE BEGINNING
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.”
ACCENT THE POSITIVE
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