The adventure as a professional basketball player started almost 15 years ago. Rui Monteiro is now thirty four years old, six foot three tall, plays at the shooting guard/small forward positions and he is in the final chapter of his career. The complements to his natural ability, and what he could do on the basketball court, started surging early from the best youth national coaches.
I grew up in Ovar which is known as a city that loves and lives the basketball. In my childhood days in school, everybody loved this sport, unlike most cities in the country, and I started developing with my friends, love for this sport. During this time, my knowledge and interest in the sport have evolved from just a hobby to something more serious. Along with other classmates we tried our luck in a trial to play for the city best club, Ovarense. That was when I had my first contact with the basketball court. However I moved to a bigger city, Porto, and I was lucky to have been given a club which had never before heard, Sporting Clube Vasco da Gama. The experience in this team helped me achieving what I needed to become a much better player and person. The fact that the club “runs” as an authentic family, made me stronger year after year and the game became passion. However the age of senior were emerging and opportunities to represent other institutions appeared, which then led me to choose to follow the career of professional basketball that lasts until today.
The first experience far away from home
I must confess that at first was not easy to adapt. Because at the age of 18, being so far from the comforts of home, leaving everything behind (family, friends, all the routines created in my town, etc ...), adapting to an extremely small community and the need to get used the life of professional basketball is not easy in our country. However, the fact that this year had the company of one of my great friends in this adventure made it all became easier. This factor was one of the most important for our integration in Terceira, Azores, because we helped each other to overcome difficulties such as the intense homesickness. It is also important to mention that all persons assigned to the Sport Club Lusitania who did everything for us to feel at home, thus made it much easier.
The professional career over the years…
First of all, I feel very proud that I have been given the opportunity to represent several institutions in various parts of the country. The opportunity to play at the highest level in Portugal came very early in my career and I’ve tried to do my best and learn as much as I can from this sport that I love.
Through the years I consider myself lucky because I hadn’t much problems with injuries and problems with the clubs I represented. I could have accomplished much more if I had opted better in different occasions but, in general, I am happy for what I've achieved throughout my career.
The two most memorable moments
Fortunately, throughout all these years there were several moments for me to remember and cherish but the most remarkable were, the season I played for Vitoria de Guimarães and we won the Championship, the Portuguese cup and Î won the award for the best Portuguese player playing in the league. I also consider a striking moment but in the negative side, when I was playing for Sport Club Lusitânia in the Azorean Islands, the game we lost against the team Imortal Albufeira in the Playoff Semi-Finals of the first division.
The next step
I think I still am an important player in any team. At this stage of my career, it’s wise to think every step I make because I want win a title before my career is over. However, still cherish a desire to end my career at my favorite club, Sport Club Vasco da Gama. We'll see if it is possible to realize this personal dream. Thinking short term, since the career of professional basketball is becoming more unstable, it’s possible for me to play for at least two more years. In long term, several options are open, inclusive stay connected to basketball. When the time is right, I will consider all options and decide according to what it is best for me and for the institutions concerned.
The reality of the Portuguese basketball
As is well known, Basketball is not one of the most popular sports in the world. Not even close. Same happens in Portugal with all the children wanting to try football. I think the problem starts there because the Portuguese Basketball Federation doesn’t do anything to change and persuade people to play the game. The game has clearly been losing prominence in relation to other sports said semi-professionals. I think it is urgent that all institutions and decision-makers (the federation, clubs, associations) to work together towards the common good that the case would return to make basketball the second modality of the country as happened a few years ago. I think this is only possible if all the people involved put behind their own self interests and fight for the interests of the sport.