An otherwise fantastic match between Union Olimpija and Panathinaikos last night was marred somewhat by the beyond-naughty antics of Mike Batiste. With an already tense game at 57-55 in the fourth quarter, Batiste tangled with Saso Ozbolt while ostensibly going for a rebound (though the ball was clearly going off the other side of the rim). Batiste appeared to knock Ozbolt over – though some floppage may have been involved – but the worst part came thereafter.
Half-heartedly trying to make it appear as though harmlessly running upcourt, Batiste essentially performed a modified curb stomp on poor Ozbolt; too bad for Batiste the incident was perpetuated well in view of two referees – not to mention about a half-meter or less away from Ozbolt’s teammate Kevinn Pinkney.
Batiste was ultimately assessed a technical foul, made to apologize to Ozbolt immediately by PAO coach Zeljko Obradovic, and sat until the overtime period. It is to Obradovic’s credit that he reprimanded Batiste despite hurting his team’s chances. Much of Panathinaikos’ offense play in the second half depended on going through Batiste in the low post and his counterpart in Ozbolt had been held to five points on just two jumpers and no free throws before the flagrant.
One wonders if the Euroleague and/or Panathinaikos will take any sort of action against Batiste, but the truth is the man hurt his team in the fourth quarter and probably ultimately can be faulted for giving Olimpija just enough edge in the 7½ minutes he sat to win the game and thus take the Group D lead – and neatly neutralizing Dimitris Diamantidis’ MVP performance and Batiste’s own week-high four blocked shots.