Liz Cambage says the truth will emerge after her former Australian captain Jenna O’Hea said that comments the ex-Opals star was alleged to have made towards the Nigerian women’s basketball team prior to last year’s Olympics were “100% correct”.
O’Hea alleged in a TV interview on Sunday that unconfirmed claims that Cambage told her Nigerian rivals to “go back to your third-world country” in a practice game incident that contributed to her messy exit from the national program were true.
Australia’s Tokyo Olympic campaign was derailed after centre Cambage withdrew, citing mental health concerns about entering the Olympic bubble.
Cambage was independently investigated over the incident and issued a formal reprimand – but not suspended or fined – despite the seriousness of the offence.
However in a tweet on Monday, Cambage said: “The truth will always come to light, and it ain’t even dawn yet.”
Basketball Australia didn’t answer requests for comment on Monday.
Australian basketball great Andrew Bogut, who has had a long-running feud with Cambage on social media, alleged what she actually said was worse than reported.
“You’ve just got the PG version, there was much more than that – I’m just glad someone’s come out and said it,” Bogut told radio station 2GB on Monday.
Former star player and coach Andrew Gaze said Cambage’s criticism of Basketball Australia was “unfair”.
“Above and beyond that [the Nigeria comments], the thing that really, really grates at me is when she makes the comments to say she feels supported in Los Angeles at a level that wasn’t there with the Australian team and the suggestion that she was never supported by Australia, the Opals, or Basketball Australia, that is highly offensive,” Gaze told SEN radio.
“I have been in a privileged position to be on the board of Basketball Australia during much of her time and I had a long conversation with her directly, and unfortunately, I couldn’t have that conversation just one on one, her agent had to be there.
“She was supported, not just by me, but by others along the way … to say that she wasn’t supported is unfair.”
Despite remaining eligible for selection for this year’s World Cup in Sydney, Cambage had indicated she would not play for the Opals again.
Cambage, who has a Nigerian father and now plays for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA, recently told the ABC: “I’m living my best life. I’m supported, I’m protected on a level that the Opals or the Australian team never gave to me.”
“My heart lies with those who want to protect me and those who want me to be the best I can be, and I never felt that at the Opals at all,” she said. “So yeah, I’m good.”
Last July, when Cambage unexpectedly withdrew from the Australian team on the eve of the Olympics, she called it “literally one of the hardest decisions of my life”.
In a social media post, she also hit out at “lies” and “fake news” surrounding her decision and directly responded to speculation about the on-court incident during that scrimmage against Nigeria.
“Yeah, things got heated in the Nigeria game, there was a physical altercation and there were words exchanged,” Cambage said at the time. “But I’m hearing things that aren’t true at all. Everything that happened and everything I’ve said is on film.”