1-On-1 With OKC Thunder's Serge Ibaka

Tuesday, July 21st 2015, 9:31 pm
By: News 9, Steve McGehee

Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka left his homeland to follow a dream to play in the NBA.

Now, the "Son of Congo" returns to his homeland each year to make a difference. He sat down with News 9 to talk about his work on and off the court and how growing up in the Republic of Congo has shaped him.

"I'm the kind of person where, I never forget where I come from, you know, so it makes me feel good," said Serge Ibaka, OKC Thunder forward.

Ibaka had another off-season filled with giving back in his native land, the Republic of Congo.

"We bring you the water, the medicine for the hospital, so this year is gonna really be a big year," he said.

Earlier this month, Serge worked with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, handing out hearing aids, in some cases, giving someone a chance to hear for the very first time.

"It's tough, it's tough because it's a short trip and sometimes I wish, 'man I wish I could stay one or two months,'" Ibaka said. "I still have a lot of work to do, I still have a lot to accomplish, and I know I’m going to get there."

3/21/15 Related Story: Son Of The Congo: Serge Ibaka Debuts Heartfelt Documentary In OKC

There is more to his overwhelming generosity. The after-effects of the 25-year-old's success in Oklahoma City gives others from the Congo a path to follow.

"Every parent now tries to push their kids to play basketball but now they're ready to believe now like now they're thinking like it's possible," he said.

Sixty miles north of Ibaka's basketball home in OKC, his brother is taking that path in Stillwater.

"I wanna do a little bit better than my brother, yeah," said Igor Ibaka, Serge Ibaka's brother.

The challenge is on, Serge Ibaka's little brother, Igor, who is hardly little, stands 6' 9" and will be a sophomore at Oklahoma State University this fall.

"My brother was surprised about me. He told me I did a good job for coming here, it's not easy, America's not easy," Igor said.

Igor was at Northeast Oklahoma A&M Junior College last year in Miami, and thanks to basketball, he's even closer to his inspiration.

"He is why I'm sitting here at Oklahoma State, because I'm close with my brother," Igor Ibaka said.

Serge Ibaka said there's a lot to like about his brother's game.

"His hustle, man, you know, he really watched me, he really tries to learn everything I do," Serge said. "He's tough, he plays tough."

Serge Ibaka intends on being at as many games as he can, if his NBA schedule allows. Just like all the other Thunder players, Serge Ibaka is eager to see what's in store for this season.

"We're gonna come strong next year, that's one thing I know for sure, we're gonna come strong next year," Serge Ibaka said. "We're gonna be a better team."

And what would it mean to win a title for Oklahoma City?

"It's going to mean a lot for everybody, you know, for Oklahoma people, for my family, my teammates, my teammates' families, the organization, for everybody," he said.

A new documentary about Ibaka's journey and rise to the NBA from his native Congo debuted in Oklahoma City earlier this year. Click here to watch the  "Son of the Congo."