Championship in his last season is bittersweet for the point guard
A month ago, Ricardo Monge led the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team to the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) title. He had a 19-point performance over the UQAM Citadins, concluding his career in the league with a first championship.
Few players can say they concluded their career by winning a championship. Monge’s last season with the Stingers is hard to describe.
“It was definitely amazing,” Monge said. “[There were] a lot of ups and downs, but in the end, we were able to achieve our goal and there is no better feeling. It’s also bittersweet because it was potentially my last year playing competitive basketball.”
Monge began his career with the Stingers in 2014-15, when he played 13 games. The Gatineau native said he was ready for the challenge of playing university basketball after three years at John Abbott College.
“I came in with a class of eight rookies, so there was a lot of playing time competition,” Monge said. “The biggest adjustment was probably the physical aspect of the game.”
When head coach Rastko Popovic, recruited Monge, he saw a hardworking player and a great teammate.
“He was coachable and had a great attitude on the floor,” Popovic said. “He was always positive, and these are the kinds of things we’re looking for at the point guard position.”
Monge’s development has been impressive during his five years at Concordia. The point guard finished every season with more points than the last, as he went from 106 in his first to 248 in his last. Monge had few expectations when he started at Concordia and simply focused on his game.
“I just came prepared to outwork everyone else and earn my minutes,” Monge said. “I was also lucky that the starting position [was good for his height], so I was on the floor a lot as a rookie. It helped my development as a player.”
Popovic said he always told Monge that he had the work ethic to have these kinds of results. The head coach explained that Monge is committed and wants to get better every season.
“He’s motivated and that’s something huge,” Popovic said. “He’s not somebody we push every day to be in the gym. He arrived here as a young point guard, and ended up leaving [with] a lot of awards. He had a tremendous career here at Concordia, and I am so proud of everything he’s done so far.”
After nominations to the all-rookie team in 2015 and the second team all-star in 2018, Monge earned RSEQ honours for a third time this season. He received all-Canadian honours and was the MVP in Quebec university men’s basketball conference this year.
“I don’t think anyone out there is playing for awards, but it’s always nice to be recognized for your sacrifices,” Monge said. “I think the success came from years of work and all the confidence that the coaching staff and my teammates had in me.”
According to Popovic, these are well-deserved awards for someone, who, five years ago, arrived at Concordia with low expectations. The head coach said that Monge will be an amazing role model for Stingers players.
“Everything he does, he does it well,” Popovic said. “He has a tremendous story, and I think everybody needs to know about how great it is. I just call myself lucky to have been his coach for the last five years, as he also helped me to be a better coach and I’m so thankful for that.”
Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.