Liz Cambage responds after former Opals captain's explosive claims

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Jenna O'Hea and Liz Cambage, pictured here in action for the Southside Flyers in the WNBL.
Jenna O'Hea and Liz Cambage in action for the Southside Flyers in the WNBL. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Liz Cambage has seemingly offered a response after former Opals captain Jenna O'Hea confirmed explosive claims about what sparked a brawl against Nigeria last year.

Cambage was independently investigated and issued a formal reprimand - but not suspended or fined - after the practice game altercation before the Opals' Tokyo Olympics campaign.

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The Aussie star subsequently withdrew from the Opals team in the lead-up to the Games, citing mental health concerns.

She then made herself unavailable for selection for this year's World Cup in Sydney, saying she would never play for Australia again.

Amid the ugly furore, specific details about Cambage's actions against Nigeria have never been made public.

Liz Cambage, pictured here in action for the Opals in Olympic qualifying in 2020.
Liz Cambage in action for the Opals in Olympic qualifying in 2020. (Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images)

But speaking on the ABC's 'Offsiders' program on Sunday, retired Opals great O'Hea lifted the lid on what went down.

O'Hea confirmed host Kelli Underwood's claim that Cambage "turned to them (Nigerian players) and said 'go back to your third world country'."

"Ezi Magbegor is originally Nigerian and a Nigerian who is now living in Australia and playing for your team, and as a result there was a brawl that erupted and since then you haven’t spoken to her?” Underwood asked.

O'Hea replied: "That is all one hundred per cent correct," O'Hea said.

When asked if Cambage would ever play for Australia again, O'Hea flatly replied: "No".

Seemingly addressing the claims later on Sunday, Cambage wrote on Twitter: “The truth will always come to light, and it ain’t even dawn yet”.

Jenna O'Hea bristles at Liz Cambage comments

The revelations come after Cambage, who has a Nigerian father and now plays for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA, 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. So yeah, I'm good."

O'Hea, a long-time captain of Cambage, bristled when asked for her response.

"I can hold my head up high and say I always loved her, always cared for her, supported her, had her back," O'Hea said.

"That is her reality and the listeners can believe what they want to believe.

"Everyone's done more than enough. We've sacrificed a lot to try and keep her in the program.

"She doesn't want to be here anymore. That's her choice and we need to move on without her."

The Opals struggled without Cambage in Tokyo, but O'Hea said with proper preparation Sandy Brondello's outfit could triumph at the World Cup.

Their September campaign could also mark the return of Lauren Jackson, who has dominated at NBL1 level for Albury-Wodonga since coming out of retirement.

"There's so many wonderfully talented basketballers in Australia, so many playing in the WNBA," O'Hea said.

"With the right preparation we can do really well.

"There's so many great role models ... I want the media to focus on those who want to play for the Opals and represent Australia."

with AAP

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