Serge Ibaka was not exactly happy about how his Olympic experience went playing for Spain in London. Spain finished with a silver medal as they lost to the United States in the gold medal game but Ibaka was a small part of their effort.
Ibaka played just 15.1 minutes per game and averaged 8.0 points per game. After the Olympics, Ibaka said that he wasn’t sure if he would continue playing for Spain in the future.
Pau Gasol wants Ibaka to be a part of Spain’s basketball future.
“We hope Serge can be part of the national team for many years,” Gasol told the Los Angeles Times. “He brings so many special unique set of skills to the table.
“We were very talented and we were very deep. There’s so many other great players. Some days you’ll play a little more. Some days you’ll play better. Some days you won’t. But at the end of the day, what matters is the team success. He’s only 22 or 23. He has many years ahead of him. It’s good he has a desire and hunger. But he needs to understand the facts and circumstances of the moment and the needs long-term.”
Ibaka was playing behind the Gasol brothers for Spain who got the bulk of the minutes at the four and five positions. He was never going to overtake them in these Olympics and take any of their minutes. There were times when Spain elected to go with the veteran Felipe Reyes over Ibaka which could have been frustrating for him.
Gasol said he wasn’t sure if he would be playing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and if he isn’t, then Spain will definitely have a huge need for Ibaka. Ibaka will be one of Spain’s stars by then and the experience playing in those Olympics should be much richer for him.
“I’m not going to play forever,” Gasol said. “Marc Gasol is not going to play forever.”
Ibaka just signed a 4-year, $49 million contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder meaning he will be on OKC by the time the next Olympics come around.