Monique Conti is back on basketball’s world stage.
The multi-sport star from Maribyrnong College will take to the floor for the Australian Gems at the FIBA under-19 Women’s Basketball World Cup, starting Saturday.
Conti travelled with the Gems to a pre-tournament event in France before flying to Udine, Italy, for the world cup.
“It’s always a great honour to be selected to represent your country and wear the green and gold,” Conti said. “It’s something that I’ve been striving for since the under-17 campaign.
“Now I’ve made it to that stage, I’ve got to perform well at worlds and just own [my] spot really.”
Conti was a key part of Australia’s title-winning run at the under-17 world championships. The point guard was so influential she was named in the all-star five at the championships.
While Conti has experienced basketball on the world stage, she envisages the under-19 level to be a considerable step up.
“This is one step higher because the age group has gone up a couple of years,” she said. “It is going to be quite challenging, but I am prepared for it because I know what’s ahead of us and what the focus is.
“There are going to be some really good athletes, so I’m looking forward to seeing where I stand.”
Conti will know more about her specific role within the team after the lead-up matches are completed. The Maidstone resident has vowed to be ready when called upon, be it as a starter or an impact player off the bench.
“I’m not too concerned about starting as such, but I hope to be one of the main point guards,” she said. “I’ve just got to be ready.”
Conti has played with two quality organisations in the Melbourne Tigers and Melbourne Boomers. The coaches at the Tigers had a massive impact on her early years in basketball before she crossed to the Boomers as a development player.
She was recently offered a contract with the Boomers after taking out the WNBL rookie of the year award.
“Being a rookie as a 16 year old was definitely very challenging, but it was definitely one to remember and playing with a bunch of elite athletes was a really good opportunity for me,” Conti said. “It’s got me to where I am today.”
Conti, a former Keilor resident, is also a talented footballer with the Calder Cannons. She is part of the AFL Women’s Academy and could be drafted to the AFLW later this year.
With dreams of reaching the WNBA in the US, Conti has no intentions of turning her back on either sport, preferring to juggle the load and be successful in both.
For the short term, it will be alley-oops and three-point bombs that make the headlines, not high marks and torpedo kicks.
“It’s really exciting for me knowing I’ve got two potential pathways to take,” Conti said.