Aug 23, 2012, 3:56 PM EDT
Serge Ibaka looked pretty good in the gold medal game against the United States — he had 12 points and 9 rebounds, and he played 22 minutes.
But apparently the minutes were an issue for Ibaka through the Olympics — he wanted more but found his role shrinking. And he is so ticked he may not play for Spain in four years when the Olympics come to Rio.
After practice, while the other players shared coffee or fruit, the Thunder big man put as much distance as possible [between him and his teammates]. The day before the final, for example, he waited alone on the bus for half an hour, looking heated. The evening before the semifinals, he wandered through a field near the stadium, gesticulating in an unfriendly manner while talking on the phone. Every evening, after workouts, he crossed between the handful of journalists, and only someone suicidal would have dared to stop him….
“If things continue like this, I will not return,” he admitted to close friends before the final.
That’s not going to come off well, especially after we saw his teammate James Harden play a limited role for Team USA an not complain.
Ibaka averaged 15.2 minutes a game for Spain and saw his minutes slide, but that was for a few reasons. First, the simple fact is he is not as good as Marc Gasol or Pau Gasol — not today, not during the Olympics. And certainly not in an international style game where the Gasols have played with the other members of that team for more than a decade.
Ibaka was not getting the Gasols’ minutes. Nor should he. Yes, veteran Spanish leaguer Felipe Reyes started to eat into his minutes, but Reyes was playing well.
Honestly, I thought Spain used Ibaka fairly. He is an improving big man — a good rim defender who runs the floor and has worked hard to develop a consistent midrange game. But he was not always the best call.
If he comes back he very likely plays a much bigger role in Rio. And you would think the four-year, $48 million he just got from Oklahoma City would help soften his mood.
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