Originally posted on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 8/27/12

Serge Ibaka didn't play nearly as much as anyone expected he would in the Olympics. The Spanish team who eventually finished seven points shy of a Gold Medal did play Ibaka for 22 minutes in the final game against the US, but he probably should've played even more than that.

To speculate, the issue most likely revolved around the fact that the Gasol brothers manned the post for much of the international competition. Marc at the center spot, and Pau at the Power Forward. For as good as Ibaka is, and will be, he's not as skilled as Pau right now. Unlike the basketball played in the United States, European style play is far more rooted in fundamentals, and coached by traditionalists. Meaning, in my opinion, the Spanish coaching staff isn't as likely to roll out a starting front-court with Serge at the three.

Maybe they should've done that. In the defense of the Spanish brain trust however, they did finish only seven points away from beating a team who thinks they could beat the Dream Team. Sorry to mention that again.

Regardless, Serge wasn't pleased. Luis Fernano López wrote about just how bent Ibaka was during the Olympic Games. That translation courtesy of the Ball Don't Lie guys - who either got it from somewhere or know how to speak hoops in any language:

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.

The fact that "only someone suicidal would have dared to stop him" to talk is both a strong and effective way of describing the level of anger permeating from the Thunder big man. The fact that Luis waited until Serge was back stateside, and just done inking a deal that'll pay him $48 million, also indicates how angry he must have been. I don't necessarily blame him for it though.

Ibaka walked away from the Olympic experience at 22-years old saying to some that he may not return to the team next time around. With both Gasol's - especially Pau - entering the twilight of their careers, you might not want a major piece to the future of your country's basketball team to be so upset that he doesn't want to come back. Four years from now there will be no Pau. There's no telling how good Marc will still be playing then, and Ricky Rubio is going to need a front-line All Star caliber big to run with. Hopefully for Spain's sake, that's Ibaka. I don't think they're is so flush with NBA talent that they can afford letting a guy like him get away.


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