Esteban Batista retires from Uruguay's National Team: "I was happy defending my country's jersey"
MONTEVIDEO (Uruguay) – At Montevideo's Antel Arena and against Mexico during the final game of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers, 39-year-old center Esteban Batista played his last game for the Uruguayan National Team. The talented big man said goodbye in his native city and in front of his home crowd, putting an end to a 20-year career that included 116 games in the light blue jersey.
Batista had a complete performance in his final game, contributing 9 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the loss to Mexico that allowed the visiting team to secure their spot in the World Cup. Uruguay had been eliminated after losing their previous game against United States.
Despite not having reached the goal (Uruguay has not played in a World Cup since 1986), Batista said he felt at peace with himself. It is clear to him that he always did everything in his power to make the Uruguayan team competitive.
“For me it is a very special night. It was very difficult for me to be on the court with so many emotions in my head. I'm leaving empty because I gave everything. I was always happy defending my country's jersey and sad because after so long I couldn't achieve my goal. But I'm leaving in peace because I couldn't do more,” he said after the game during the press conference.
Batista made his Uruguayan national team debut at the 2003 South American Championship, and from then on he was almost always ready to defend his country's colors. In his career, he collected four medals in South American Championships, two silver in the 2006 and 2008 editions and two bronze in 2003 and 2016. He also won bronze at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
🇺🇾 @BatistaEsteban eterno 🙌— FIBA AmeriCup (@AmeriCup) February 26, 2023
➡️116 partidos con Uruguay 🇺🇾 y hoy se despide en lo más alto 👏👏👏#FIBAWC x #WinForUruguay pic.twitter.com/HffduEsjBj
At the individual level, he is recognized as one of the most emblematic players of his country. In 2005, he became the first Uruguayan to play in the NBA, with the Atlanta Hawks, for two seasons in which he appeared in 70 games, averaging 1.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 8.2 minutes.
He also had an outstanding career in Europe playing for renowned clubs such as Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), Fuenlabrada (Spain), Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Pinar Karsiyaka (Turkey) and Panathinaikos (Greece).
“I wish the team the best of luck to achieve the goals that have been elusive for 40 years. I will always be around nearby, supporting and giving what I can for Uruguay. I think that many good things are being done and perhaps people don't know about them because the results are not coming, but I believe and I hope that those results will come soon," added the left-handed big man who, during the 2023 FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers, was available in all 12 games for his team and posted averages of 9.3 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Batista will remain active in the Uruguayan league with Olimpia, where he has averaged 8.5 points and 8.6 rebounds this season.