O'Hea lifts lid on Cambage Opals incident

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Former Opals captain Jenna O'Hea has confirmed claims that Liz Cambage told her Nigerian rivals to "go back to your third world country" in an incident that sparked a messy exit from the national program.

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

In the days after the Nigeria clash she withdrew from the Games citing mental health concerns and then, despite remaining available for selection for this year's World Cup in Sydney, said she would never again play for the Opals.

The specifics of Cambage's on-court actions had remained a mystery until Sunday.

Speaking on the ABC's Offsiders, retired Opals great O'Hea confirmed host Kelli Underwood's claim that Cambage "turned to them (Nigerian players) and said 'go back to your third world country'," and that they hadn't spoken since.

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

It comes 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 would play to its ranking, which has long fluctuated between No.2 and No.3 in the world, at Sydney's 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."

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