Conti Pumped to Jump Fully Into 3×3 Pro Hustle

She is a Melbourne Boomers WNBL star and AFLW premiership winner with the Western Bulldogs after being best on ground in the recent Grand Final but Monique Conti is excited to be embarking on a new venture this Sunday in the NBL 3×3 Pro Hustle.

The NBL 3×3 Pro Hustle Series begins at Melbourne’s Docklands this Sunday in what is the first professional 3×3 event in Australia and the 18-year-old Conti was only too happy to be put her hand up to be part of it.

It has been quite the remarkable past six months for Conti who was drafted to the Western Bulldogs ahead of the 2018 AFLW season and then was a key player in the Melbourne Boomers run all the way to the WNBL Grand Final during the 2017/18 season.

Immediately following the Grand Final loss to the Townsville Fire, Conti was into life with the Bulldogs for the AFLW season which eventuated in her not only helping her team win the premiership, but she was named best on ground in the Grand Final win over the Brisbane Lions.

If you thought the 18-year-old dual sport star would take a break you’d be mistaken.

She is now playing in the SEABL for the Melbourne Tigers and this Sunday can’t wait to be part of the 3×3 event at Docklands Studio playing alongside Maddie Garrick, Chloe Molloy and Jasmine Simmons.

“I am very nervous because we’ve only been scrimmaging and practicing with another group and a couple of the boys, but we haven’t played a full proper game yet so that will be interesting,” Conti told NBL Media.

“But I’m very excited and can’t wait to get out there. It’s the first professional event in Australia and it’s held in Melbourne, that’s pretty cool. I can’t wait to get out there and ball out with the group of girls.”

Considering she is already juggling two sports, it might seem daunting to add another with the 3×3 format so much different than a usual basketball game. But for Conti she is more than happy to take on another challenge.

“It’s a lot different obviously and the game is a lot quicker. It’s just a different format but it’s obviously going to be in the 2020 Olympics so I thought it would be a great idea to be part of it and watch it grow like AFLW has for example,” she said.

“I just wanted to be a part of it and jump on board, and rep the Melbourne Boomers with Mad Garrick as well. I just wanted to try it and it seems like it’s really fun so I thought why not.

“I’ve just been juggling basketball and football for a long time, so I don’t see why I can’t add something else in there too.

“It’s going to be interesting playing SEABL at the moment and having to go and play 3×3, and it’s a different ball as well and game style so you have to adjust to that. It is just a juggling act and I’ve just got better at dealing with that as the years have gone on. So why not go out there and give 3×3 a go too.”

The added bonus of getting involved in the 3×3 concept is that there is a FIBA Asian Cup tournament coming up and also spots at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games too which only makes it more appealing for Conti.

“Any time you put on that green and gold it is very special, it doesn’t really matter what it’s for,” Conti said.

“As long as you enjoy what you are doing and you are playing for your country, it would always be very special.”

It was a rollercoaster period over the last couple of months for Conti who experienced the high of reaching the WNBL Grand Final with the Boomers but then losing Game 3 to Townsville.

Then having to transition immediately into the AFLW season and reaching another Grand Final, and this time being on the winning end and being best afield in the process topped it off.

“It was definitely a rollercoaster that’s for sure coming off that Grand Final with the Boomers. First of all it was definitely a high going into the WNBL championship series with such a great team,” she said.

“Playing with Liz Cambage and Jenna O’Hea especially was a highlight and playing against quality opposition like Cayla George and Suzy Batkovic was an amazing experience. That was a high but there was the low of losing obviously after we had a really good Game 2.

“Then losing was sort of heartbreaking to go all that way but falling the tiniest bit short. But we had a great season and then it was another high coming into AFLW.

“It was all really exciting and I was nervous having to go from basketball to footy in a week’s time so I had to get my skills back up there. I tried to switch off from basketball mode to focus on footy for the AFLW season and now I’m back into basketball mode.”

Being part of that AFLW premiership is something that will stick with Conti for a long time and only now is she starting to come off the high.

But looking at the bigger picture, she sees no reason why she can’t continue playing AFLW, WNBL, SEABL, VFL and even 3×3 as long as she continues to enjoy it and keeps performing at a high level.

“As soon as I had to switch off from footy mode to get back into basketball it sort of sunk in that I had won an AFLW premiership with the Western Bulldogs. It is a pretty cool feeling that’s hard to take in but it’s slowly sunk in now and I’m starting to come off that high,” she said.

“I don’t think I will have to choose anytime soon. I’ve made it this far doing both and I do love both basketball in the basketball season and footy in the footy season. I don’t think I have to make a decision just yet being 18 years old.

“You look at Erin Phillips who is able to come and play footy and still be coaching in the WNBA. Ellyse Perry is able to play dual sports so I think I can do it and I don’t see why not.

“A lot of people say you can’t be really good at two sports, but that only drives me and makes me want to prove them wrong. I want to pursue my own dreams and I can’t see why I can’t play both sports so I’m going to do that for as long as I can.”

Longer term, for an 18-year-old to have the very real prospect that she can play professional football and basketball to earn a living, that’s something to be excited about.

“Especially with AFLW getting bigger and bigger, I’ve been lucky at my age to come into the second season and it’s already been pretty cool,” Conti said.

“With that improving and I’m sure the WNBL will get a lot more attention now with the TV rights coming back last season the start of that. Who doesn’t love playing sport for a living, I absolutely love it, and it’s a dream for mine to do it for a living as long as I can and then worry about what life holds for me after that.”

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