Serge Ibaka has returned from his calf injury and played great in last Sunday’s win over the San Antonio Spurs. In his first game back from injury, Ibaka had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. It just goes to show you how much of a difference he can make when he’s out on the court. This season, he averaged 15.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a game. Here’s the amazing thing about that: he’s only 24 years old and has played in the NBA for four years! Ibaka is already proving that he is one of the best power forwards in the NBA. His teammates and fans have nicknamed him Serge “Iblocka” for his tremendous effort on defense. When superstars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook take over on offense, Ibaka takes over on defense and helps anchor his Oklahoma City Thunder team. But who is Serge Ibaka really? Well let’s take a look at his history.
Ibaka was born in the Republic of Congo and is the third-youngest of 18 children. Both his mother and his father played basketball for the country of Congo and it is safe to say that Ibaka has inherited their athletic gifts. He also plays for the Spanish national team and is fluent in five languages (Lingala, French, Spanish, Catalan and English). Having played on the Republic of Congo youth team, he is also one of three players to play for two national teams ( the other two are Roy Hibbert and Charlie Villanueva). In 2008, he was selected 24th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, becoming the first player from the Republic of Congo to get drafted by an NBA team. From there, he has been a dominant force on defense in the NBA. He is well known internationally as well for his role in the Olympic Games in 2012 and winning the gold medal in the FIBA European Championship in 2011 for Spain.
As for his religious beliefs, Ibaka is a Christian and began learning more about Christ ever since he moved to the United States. Recently, he’s been reading the Bible daily and having a teammate like Kevin Durant has been very beneficial to his spiritual walk. Ibaka tends to not associate with the public media and outwardly express his faith, but he is known to make a gesture to God after a big play in a game by making the cross symbol on his chest and pointing to the heavens. He can also be a great international ambassador for Christ. With him speaking five languages, he can be the ultimate missionary! He already works with UNICEF in helping child development all around the world. Ibaka has also pledged $315,000 to the “UNICEF Gets Boys and Girls in the Game” project for the renovation and expansion of two orphanages in Brazzaville, Congo. Ibaka, whose home country is the Congo, has also pledged a donation of $500 for every blocked shot he records during the 2014 NBA Playoffs. He is truly a man after God’s heart and hopes to make a difference around the world.