Is free-agent forward Serge Ibaka older than his listed age of 27? This issue was raised by Zach Lowe of ESPN when he appeared on Bleacher Report’s The Full 48 Podcast. While he’s uncomfortable in saying it, Lowe said teams believe that Ibaka is older than his listed age of 27, thus “affecting the free-agency market for him”.

Ibaka, born on September 18, 1989 in the Republic of the Congo, was drafted 24th overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2008. The Oklahoma City Thunder inherited the rights to Ibaka, who was then playing in the ACB League in Spain, and brought him to the NBA in 2009 via buyout.

Ibaka played his first seven NBA years with the Thunder before he was traded to the Orlando Magic. The Magic then shipped him to the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline. Last season, he averaged 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

Ibaka releases statement about rumors

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Ibaka said he’s disappointed with the "small part of society that spread rumors and create rumors based on stereotypes and without any proof". Ibaka is saddened that up to this day, prejudices still exists in society based on your origin, adding that sometimes we need to take a stand. Ibaka explained that he was born in the Brazzaville, a city in the Congo with a population bigger than one million and where a hospital, a civil registry and an administration exist.

“I was not born in the jungle," Ibaka said.

Ibaka called on the media to take responsibility seriously when talking about important matters that can hurt people. “I know who I am and were I come from,” the player added. “No matter what, nobody can take away from me the pride for my origins and the love that I have for basketball,” ended Ibaka, a three-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team.

Raptors, Ibaka agree on three-year deal

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Ibaka and the Raptors agreed to terms on a three-year, $65 million contract. In 23 regular-season games with the Raptors, Ibaka averaged 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while making 39.8 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. The Miami Heat also expressed interest in Ibaka.

After the deal was reached, Ibaka told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star that the Raptors should expect his trademark hard work and hustle this coming season, just like what he did in his 23 games with Toronto last season. "I try to focus on bringing something that nobody brings," Ibaka told Smith. Ibaka was known as a tough defender but he expanded his game, improving his accuracy from the outside.