Serge Ibaka is having the time of his life in his first EuroBasket. The Congolese-born power forward was naturalised in time to play with defending champions Spain in the tournament in Lithuania. The 21-year-old power foward, one of the top defensive players in the NBA with Oklahoma City, learned his basketball in Spain before crossing the Atlantic to play in America.
"I was so excited about playing for Spain that when I joined the team in training I got to the hotel well ahead of any of my team-mates," said Ibaka. He joined a star-studded team with Pau Gasol and his brother, Marc, Rudy Fernandez, Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio and Juan Carlos Navarro.
"From the first day I had very clear in my mind that the important thing is to listen," said Ibaka. "And I immediately understood that with these team-mates, it would not be difficult. I have learned from all of them. I am truly enjoying this experience, very much like I had dreamed it."
While he might be wearing the Spanish jersey, Ibaka does not forget his origin. "I'm Spanish and I know that 100 euros are not too much to ask for," said Ibaka. "But I was born in Africa and there that amount means everything. That is why I am cooperating with UNICEF for the program 'a block against hunger' and I considered it a good figure for every block I make in the EuroBasket."