Spain's Run Ends

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@thunder-nba.com

Making an impact on the international stage isn’t new for Thunder players, but the organization values every opportunity it gets to see its team members represent Oklahoma City in front of the eyes of the world.

This August and September, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka competed for Spain’s national basketball team in the FIBA World Cup, alongside Thunder 2013 NBA Draft pick Alex Abrines. Ibaka’s prowess on the court in the NBA helped him become a core member of the Spanish rotation, while the 21-year-old, 6-foot-6 Abrines has shown his skills at FC Barcelona, allowing him to earn a roster spot and playing time in the tournament.

Spain went 5-0 in the group stage, with wins over Iran, Egypt, Brazil, France and Serbia to clinch the number one seed from Group A. Ibaka, Abrines and Spain also defeated Senegal in the Round of 16 of the knockout stage of the tournament, but fell on Wednesday to France in the quarterfinals, ending its quest for the gold medal. 

Below is a breakdown of how the games went for Spain, Ibaka and Abrines.

Saturday August 30th: Spain 90, Iran 60

Ibaka did not play, but Abrines played five minutes to end the first quarter and begin the second quarter. Abrines made a layup during his game action, scoring two points on 1-for-2 shooting.

Sunday August 31st: Spain 91, Egypt 54

Ibaka played 21 minutes, scoring 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 1-for-3 from the three-point line, to go with eight rebounds, one assist and one block. In typical fashion, Ibaka finished with authority around the rim on put backs and rolls into the lane after setting picks. Ibaka also sprinted the floor in transition, ultimately getting rewarded for his effort with passes to easy dunks, including a spectacular alley-oop. In addition, Ibaka knocked down a mid-range jumper and splashed a top-of-the-key three-pointer.

Abrines played 10 minutes and scored nine points on 3-for-5 shooting, including 2-for-4 from the three-point line. In fact, Abrines scored all nine of his points in a three-minute span. He created an old-fashioned three-point play and then knocked down three-pointers on back-to-back possessions.

Monday September 1st: Spain 82, Brazil 63

Ibaka played 17 minutes and scored five points on 2-for-5 shooting in addition to grabbing five rebounds. In addition to making his presence felt on the defensive glass, Ibaka splashed a two-point jumper and finished a layup after receiving a touch pass on a nice dive from the elbow to the block.  Abrines played two minutes as well.

Wednesday September 3rd: Spain 88, France 64

In a tightly contested first half, Ibaka didn’t make his typical impact but he exploded in the third quarter to score six points and grab four rebounds during a critical stretch where the Spanish side pulled away. The catalyst for Spain’s energy in the second half, Ibaka impacted the game with his length on defense and athleticism on offense.

Ibaka hauled in two offensive rebounds for putbacks then slammed home a dunk on a dive to the rim. In the fourth quarter, Ibaka scored on a back-door alley-oop and on another tipped-in offensive rebound. All in all, the Thunder forward finished with 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting, a team-high eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 22 minutes of action.

Abrines saw action in the final three minutes of the game, when he made a steal and drew a foul before proceeding to knock down two free throws. 

Thursday September 4th: Spain 89, Serbia 73

Team Spain was already in the driver’s seat in Group A of the knockout round, but solidified its place as the number one seed in the group with a win in a fiercely contested match against Serbia. Ibaka scored two points on 1-for-4 shooting while adding four rebounds and a blocked shot. His bucket was one of his patented face-up jumpers that Thunder fans are used to seeing and Ibaka was extremely active on the glass with his energy.

Abrines helped Spain close out the game and was aggressive, finding the bucket with a put-back dunk after crashing the boards on the offensive end. He finished with two points on 1-for-3 shooting, a rebound and a steal. 

Saturday September 6th: Spain 89, Senegal 56

In the first game of the knockout round, Spain took control in the first half and consistently built its lead throughout the contest. Ibaka played 17 minutes and was efficient during his time on the floor, scoring 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting, grabbing six rebounds and blocking three shots.

In the first quarter he hit a jumper and made a tip-in on one of his three offensive rebounds on the day. In the second quarter, Ibaka knocked in three free throws and made blocks on back-to-back possessions. In the fourth quarter, the Thunder forward hauled in a missed three-pointer by Alex Abrines and went back up for a monster dunk, then capped his night with a late jumper.

Abrines himself got into the action for six minutes and put the exclamation point on the Spanish victory by slamming home a reverse dunk on an alley-oop in transition as he finished with two points on 1-for-2 shooting. 

Wednesday September 10th: Spain 52, France 65

Spain held France to just seven points in the third quarter to rease a halftime deficit and take a one-point lead into the fourth quarter, but in the final frame the tables turned. France held Spain to just nine points over the final ten minutes of action as the Spaniards fell 65-52.  

Ibaka scored his only points of the game on his very first touch, as he received the ball in the post on his first offensive possession on the floor then coolly turned around and hit a mid-range jumper. In the second quarter Ibaka blocked a dunk attempt at the rim then he proceeded to haul in a tough defensive rebound after forcing his man into a difficult miss. During his 19 minutes of action, Ibaka finished 1-for-7 shooting with those two points, two reboudns an the blocked shot. Abrines did not see any playing time in the tough defeat. 

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