HoopsHype Serge Ibaka rumors

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June 1, 2014 Updates

Diaw — so often mocked in the past for his pear-shaped physique — was huge in all the right ways in the closeout game. He had 26 points on eight of 14 shooting, and his presence continued to allow the Spurs to space the floor by bringing Thunder big man Serge Ibaka out on the perimeter. "We ran some things for Manu, some things for Boris and some things for Timmy," Popovich said. "A lot of guys came through. ... Boris was fantastic all night long; he was really good on both ends of the court." USA Today Sports

May 30, 2014 Updates

"They made us work defensively," Ibaka said. "They were sharing the ball very well tonight, and they started early in the game (when they were) pretty effective on two-point line. Then (they) made us kind of nervous on defense, kind of lose a bit of our control in the paint, and specifically myself. I did not do a better job to protect my teammates in the paint. ... I was hoping I would be there for them. USA Today Sports

May 29, 2014 Updates
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May 26, 2014 Updates

Ibaka's statistics (15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 30 minutes) will never measure the true impact of his return, but the meaning behind his miracle moment went deeper for this group than all the rest. Rachina Ibaka had played the motherly role all week long, teaming with Serge's significant other, singer Keri Hilson, to get big Serge back in working order in time to shock the basketball world. Here was the sister who grew up with him in the Republic of Congo, one of either 11 siblings (according to Rachina) or 20-plus (according to Hilson) joining forces with the American woman who had played such a big part in his new life for two years now. A cherished member from his daunting past was serving as support with this special someone from his present, and the happy ending they had all hoped for to boot. "God and ice," Hilson said with a smile when asked how they did it. "God and ice." USA Today Sports

Rachina Ibaka lives in Oklahoma City now, and they're all one big happy family when Hilson comes to town. But when Hilson hopped a plane came straight from Atlanta in the days after Ibaka was injured back on May 15, the look on Serge's face said it all about how much work they had to do here. "As soon as I heard, I didn't feel comfortable being anywhere else," Hilson, who is based in Atlanta and Los Angeles and met Ibaka through a mutual friend, told USA TODAY Sports. "Even though he didn't say it, I knew he needed me. I needed to do anything I could to put a smile on his face. He didn't have a smile on his face all week. It was very hard. It was really hard. He's one of the most dedicated people I've ever seen in any field, one of the most dedicated people I've ever been able to witness. (Rachina) was as much his nurse as I was. She cooks. I do the TLC and cook a little bit. We had to be there for him." USA Today Sports

"I believe in God, and I believe in miracles, and I believe that everything is possible," Ibaka told USA TODAY Sports. "When I did the MRI (on the calf), and the MRI showed us that I was really bleeding a lot, but I said, 'I just want to keep believing, man.' "The only thing I was thinking in my mind was, 'At least I need to play maybe in Game 7, Game 7 (of this series).' I was thinking, 'I can not let my teammates down. I want to try to do the best I can, and maybe at least in Game 7.' Yeah, it was a very special game. A very special game. It showed me that God loves me. He really heard my prayer, because normally this kind of injury to get back to play you need to wait like maybe four weeks. This took me 10 days. It's a miracle, man believe me." USA Today Sports

Done for the Spurs, done for the season. Across the past seven years, there had been five of these injuries in the NBA, and no one had come back to play inside of a month. The air had come out of the Thunder's championship chase, and the coaches and players had been told implicitly: Move on, men. "I'm going to play," Ibaka told front-office executives Sam Presti and Troy Weaver. "I'm going to play," he told his Thunder teammates. Yahoo! Sports

Once the Thunder arrived back into Oklahoma City early Thursday, something surprising had happened: The swelling had subsided some 50 percent. The blood was gone, and suddenly the MRI gave a clearer indication this wasn't a four-to-six-week calf sprain, but a milder prognosis. Now, Ibaka was walking. Now, he was talking bolder. Game 3, he told everyone. He was walking, and the Thunder had been running out of time. He was pushing Thunder officials to let him get onto the court and start shooting. Presti understood he had to amend the rigid public stance that Ibaka held no hope of returning. Yahoo! Sports

May 25, 2014 Updates

Thunder forward Serge Ibaka participated in shootaround Sunday and said, barring any setbacks, he will play against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. "I'm trying to put my mind ready and if I'm going to feel better later, I'm going to go," Ibaka said. "For now, we're going to see if I feel better, because normally when you do this kind of workout, sometimes you can have pain later. "So I'm going to see how I feel later and then I'm going to decide." ESPN.com

Q. Do you expect to play tomorrow? Ibaka: Well, right now I'm waiting for the team doctor to confirm, and also it's depending on whether I will go tomorrow, day by day, and see. Q. In your heart do you feel like you're going to play? Ibaka: I just told you it's day by day. I cannot say how I feel. I'm waiting what the doctor going to tell me and how my body going to feel. So day by day, let's see how I'm going to wake up tomorrow. Oklahoman

"I've been hearing a lot of people saying my team lost two games because I was out," he said. "That's not true. I believe in my guys. I believe in my teammates. They can be better with me or without me. It's no excuse because Serge Ibaka was not there. Just San Antonio, the first two games, they played better basketball." USA Today Sports

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