One of the highlights of Toronto Raptors’ power forward Serge Ibaka’s NBA career is undoubtedly his tenure at the Oklahoma City Thunder, during which his rim-protection skills once made him arguably the League’s most feared shot blocker and earned him the nickname ‘The Iblocka’.
In his third year at OKC (2012/13 season), the muscular 6-foot-10 Congolese tallied 242 blocks to lead the League in that statistic for the second consecutive season. At the time, he even drew a lot of praise from teammates and fellow big men Kendrick Perkins and Hasheem Thabeet for his basketball IQ and athleticism.
After spending just over half a season in Orlando, lending his defensive and offensive prowess to the Magic, he left for the team in the north after the 2017 All-Star break and played in all of the Raptors’ remaining 23 regular-season games and 10 playoff games.
Ibaka agreed to a four-year deal with Toronto and has already given the franchise a taste of great things to come. He ended the 2016/17 season averaging 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game for the Raptors.
On his recent trip to Africa to participate in the 15th edition of Basketball Without Borders Africa and the second NBA Africa Game, he gave a friendly warning to his competitors and said he would use the coming season to turn back the hands of time.
“Next season, I will bring back the old Serge Ibaka, the one people remember from the OKC days, I will bring back the Iblocka – the Iblocka is coming back,” he declared.
He stated although he did have some minor challenges fitting into his new team, he was much more comfortable by the end of the Raptors’ playoffs run.
“In the beginning fitting in is not easy, but if you stay focused on your goal, you will know how to adjust and get into the team’s groove,” commented Ibaka.
Although Ibaka and Team Africa did not emerge victorious in the second NBA Africa Game, ahead of the matchup he mentioned that he felt blessed to be part of the second exhibition event after having had to sit out the first one due to injury.
By Kaunda Chama
@therealkaunda on Twitter