At just 16, Monique Conti made her debut in Australia’s top women’s basketball competition on Sunday afternoon.
Conti stepped out for a new-look Melbourne Boomers’ line-up against Adelaide Lightning in the Boomers’ first game of the Women’s National Basketball League season.
Conti was on court for only a couple of minutes, but it’s a taste of things to come for the Keilor resident.
Speaking before her debut game, Conti said joining the Melbourne Boomers had been an opportunity too good to turn down.
“It all happened so quickly,” she said.
“I spoke with [coach] Guy Molloy, and I couldn’t say no.
“I’ve been looking forward to it, and it will help develop my game.
“We started training in August, and I’ve already developed my game and learnt so much from Guy.
“I just want to play my role as a point guard, and I’m hoping to get a few minutes here and there … but I’ll wait and see.”
Her debut in the WNBL comes on the back of her performances at this year’s under-17 world championships. Conti started on the bench in each championship game, but once on court showed she could match it with the best.
“It was definitely a surreal moment as we made history being the first Australian team to win,” Conti said.
“It was an amazing feeling being named in the all-star five team with some of the best players in the world. I wasn’t expecting that.
“I just had to play my role, and it paid off in the end.”
Conti has been busy on the court since the world championships, playing for the Melbourne Tigers in the Big V youth league women state championship division.
She led the Tigers to the championship, winning the division’s most valuable player award, youth player of the year, golden hands and leading points scoring awards, and was named in the all-star five.
Conti, who is in year 11 at Maribyrnong Sports Academy, said playing in the world championships had helped her game with the Tigers.
“When I came back, I felt a more confident player and was able to do things and not question myself.
“I was not expecting those awards.”
As well as playing in the WNBL, Conti is a member of the under-19 Australian squad for the World Championships qualifiers.
But it’s not just in basketball that Conti has shone this year. She’s just as skilled with a football in hand.
“I had to pull out of the football youth girls’ under-18 championships because of the world championships” she said.
“I was asked to play in the all girls’ NAB match before the women’s exhibition game.
“I played against the best 45 girls from across Australia … my team was lucky enough to win, and I got best on ground.”
The 16-year-old said she would try to play both sports for as long as possible.
“I can’t tell so far which is my favourite,” she said. “I don’t have to pick at this stage.”