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Serge Ibaka replaced by Nikola Mirotic on Spanish National Team

Air Congo will finally get a chance for his body to heal.

He'll be back....
He'll be back....
David Ramos/Getty Images

Serge Ibaka will not be joining the Spanish National Team for the 2015 Eurobasket. Each national team is only allowed one foreign born player, and Spain chose to go with Nikola Mirotic as that player in 2015.

After recent events, the decision wasn't exactly surprising. Ibaka suffered a season ending right knee injury back on March 17th. Reportedly, Ibaka was supposed to have a 4-6 week timetable for his return. Three weeks into the injury, on April 8th, Anthony Slater reported that Ibaka was far from a comeback.

Of course, Ibaka would have been expected to be ready in time for September's Eurobasket. Serge is already slated to appear in an NBA Africa exhibition game on August 1st.

But given Ibaka's injury history, this is probably the best thing for him. Ibaka had a nagging left calf problem back in 2014. It forced Serge to miss a preliminary round game against Iran in the 2014 FIBA World Championship, as well as the first two games of the 2014 Western Conference Finals.

The last two seasons of injuries are a new thing for Ibaka. The first four years of Ibaka's career were virtually injury free.

Ibaka previously played for Spain in the 2011 Eurobasket, 2012 Olympics, and 2014 World Championship. Originally from the Republic of the Congo, Ibaka spent time developing his game in Spain before coming to the NBA. Fluent in Spanish, Ibaka had no problems fitting into the culture of the team.

However, Ibaka was never able to secure a starting role for Spain, spending his time on the bench behind the Gasol brothers. Additionally, the Spanish head coaches were hesitant to use Ibaka's entire skill set, confining him to a defensive and rebounding-focused role. Particularly in the 2014 World Championship, it was hard to watch Ibaka sit on the bench during critical moments of the game. Especially when Spain's defense was suffering from such a lack of speed and athleticism.

Regardless, Ibaka's accomplishments with the Spanish national team speak for themselves. Spain won gold at the 2011 Eurobasket, silver at the 2012 Olympics, and top 8 in the 2014 World Championship. Ibaka played in all of the games but one, and kept his field goal percentage above 50 during all three tournaments.

There has been no official word from Ibaka himself on this matter. However, Serge's connection to Spain remains strong. Ibaka's recent documentary, Son of the Congoran on Spanish TV on June 28th. Ibaka also regularly sends out social media updates in Spanish. Given that Serge missed the 2013 Eurobasket, his participation in the 2016 Olympics are still very much a possibility.