Batiste: “There’s no place like home”

A player to have written history, competing in the Panathinaikos jersey, returns to the clover. Mike Batiste closes this little parenthesis he opened last summer and for the upcoming season, he will once again be gearing up in Green.

The Panathinaikos BC President, Dimitris Giannakopoulos, stressed: “We would like to welcome one of our guys to Panathinaikos, a person who essentially not once was ever missing from the team. We are certain that if his ex -as of now- manager would have informed him of our offer last year, Mike would have never ever left. We had stated a few days ago that our roster had been completed, but let’s not forget that good’s enemy, is even better”.

Mike Batiste is currently in the US but his joy to be returning to Panathinaikos was hard to conceal, even via… phone: “It is all I ever wanted! Once last season ended I thought about what it was I wanted the most, what I wanted to do, which shirt I would like to be wearing when I decided to retire, since my career is reaching its end. I didn’t want to hear about anything else, about any other team. I wanted to get back to Athens, to Panathinaikos. For me it was a done deal when I found out there was an interest from the team’s part also; they… had me at hello! And I am simply glad to find Panathinaikos’ door open for me. It is not always easy to return. Panathinaikos, Athens is my home and I am heading back to it. I am genuinely really, really happy and grateful. I can hardly wait to get back!”

Batiste will also admit that the way the fans and the team welcomed him when he competed at the OAKA dressed in the Fenerbahce/Ulker jersey and as an opponent, did actually play its part in the matter: “It was mighty important for me. I knew that it was going to be a special and emotionally loaded encounter. It was a tough couple of days. I was happy to be playing in front of the very crowd to give me so much love, but I believe they all know that I reciprocated their love through all these years. However, to see everyone’s emotions, coming along as an opponent was something extremely moving. During the winter I almost made a come-back, but eventually my team never allowed me to leave and I simply had to honor my contract. It is of no importance right now however. The important thing is that I am coming home and… there’s no place like home!”

Last season was tough on Batiste and he was unable to unravel what we are used to seeing him get down to, out in the field. However, now he is ready to bring out the real Mike and his own very special mindset: “Yes… Certainly the season was a different one for me. Essentially we never established our chemistry and our roles as a team. But I do not want to dwell upon it. I prefer gazing forward. I know that I will be coming to a team and will be finding myself amongst people that trust me! And this is something to create only responsibilities for me. When you are performing with a friend like Mitsos, with a player such as Diamantidis who always has a way to make the guys around him better, you feel sure he will help you fit in right away. What I want is to help Panathinaikos be successful as it was, as it always is. I must admit, I do feel a little nervous, in a good way, and I simply can wait to get down to business. I know I’m going to have to work hard and I will be there to help any way I can. If I have to sit on the bench, I’ll sit; if I have to play as much and whenever the coach says so, I’ll play; if I have to speak up in the locker rooms, I will… Anything for the team! I can’t wait to get back home!”

Who he is

Mike Batiste (2.04, Center) was born on November 21, 1977 in the USA. He played basketball at the Long Beach, California’s Wilson high school and then studied and continued to compete at the Long Beach College (1995-96) and at the Arizona State University (1996-99). Then he took a trip over to Europe for Charleroi (200-2001), next stop Biella, Italy and for the 2002-03 he signed for the Memphis Grizzlies. He arrived in Greece for Panathinaikos in 2003 and remained Green all the way up to 2012. Last season he competed for Fenerbahce/Ulker.

He has conquered the Euroleague in 2007, 2009 and 2011 with Panathinaikos. He was named to the all-season Euroleague team in 2010-2011 and during the next season he was named to the all-season Euroleague second team. He has won the Greek League eight times (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and the Greek Cup six times (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012). Last season he added a Turkish Cup to his collection, competing for Fenerbahce/Ulker.