Ibaka Comes Up Big in Spain's Victory

Immediately after Team USA’s victory over France, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka and the Spanish national team took to the court in its preliminary Olympic contest.

Spain battled China throughout a back-and-forth opening quarter, leading 19-17 after the first period. Ibaka, who scored 17 points on the day, played a big role in Spain’s 34-point second quarter when it outscored the Chinese by 10. Ibaka was a physical presence in the paint during his 20 minutes of action, pulling down five rebounds and swatting three shots.

Once he got the ball in his hands on the offensive end, he made the most of his opportunities by shooting 8-for-11 from the floor. Whether he was attacking the rim or knocking down open jumpers, Ibaka’s offensive output helped spark Spain to a 97-81 victory. In fact, all of Ibaka’s points came in the second and fourth quarters, periods in which Spain outscored China by 17 points.

The Spanish side went undefeated in exhibition play outside of a loss to the United States, and is expected to compete for the top spot in Pool B. Ibaka’s Spanish teammates Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol bolster the front line alongside the Thunder forward, and expect that their familiarity with one another as a team will serve them well in London.

"We've known each other for a long time," Gasol said to NBC’s Craig Sager. “We know how to play. We have great chemistry and we try to get better as we move along. We'll see what happens later on."