Australian women's basketball superstar Liz Cambage has hit out at what she describes as "fake news" and "lies" about her decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Opals star announced her bombshell decision to pull out of Australia's Olympic Games campaign on Friday, citing mental health and anxiety concerns about being isolated in bubble in the Japanese capital.
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However, contrasting reports say Cambage's Opals teammates were unhappy about playing with the star following a "physical altercation" in a warm-up game against Nigeria.
Cambage was also accused of breaking team protocol by going out partying with friends in Las Vegas, where she plays with the Aces in the WNBA.
Basketball Australia is still reportedly investigating the incident against Nigeria which Cambage has admitted to, however, she has angrily denied reports about going out in Las Vegas.
In a lengthy video statement on Instagram, the basketball star said she was "annoyed" at the reports and reiterated just how tough her decision was to withdraw from Australia's Olympics campaign.
“First of all I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who sent me a lot of love the past 16 hours. Thank you, I love y’all.
“This decision has been a few days in the making but I’ve been at breaking point for a month or so now.
“But as soon as I put out that little statement yesterday and made the final decision, I felt a world of anxiety and pressure and heaviness I have been carrying lift straight off me.
“I’m pretty annoyed at all the fake news and the lies I’m seeing floating around in news articles and being shown and being asked about.
“I just want to say this decision was coming and I’m happy I finally made it on my own terms. It’s sad that news got leaked yesterday that I didn’t even know about.
Cambage confirms 'physical altercation'
“Yeah, things got heated in the Nigeria game. There was a physical altercation and there were words exchanged but I’m hearing things that aren’t true at all, flying around from people in Australia and America which is crazy.
“Everything that happened and everything that was said is on film. I know what happened and I do not appreciate the lies and people constantly trying to tear me down. Hating on me won’t bring you love, at all.
“But hey, I’ve been trapped in this room, with no view, with nothing, for a week. Of course I’m going to lose my mind in here, are you serious?
“I’m seeing reports I went out partying. S***. I wish I did! I know some of the people in Vegas have been having a really good time this week. But I’ve been in here, bro. I’ve been in here. And the only time I left this goddamn bubble was for the All-Star game.
“I don’t appreciate the lies. Don’t you ever get sick of lying on my name. Don’t you have anything else better to talk about?
“Yesterday was literally one of the hardest decisions of my life. But it had been coming. I’ve been having breakdowns in the carpark at Whole Foods. Non-stop panic attacks. Hyperventilating. At the thought of going into one of the most high-pressure situations, that is already in a bubble. With no fans, no friends. I’ve never played without fans.
“The main reason I sat out the WNBA last season was my mental health. I’m not OK in a bubble. I’m not OK playing in front of no fans. Mentally, I’m an escapist. If I have no escape from a situation, it gives me anxiety and I panic. And there’s definitely no escape, except for leaving, once you get into Tokyo. And I would not want to do that.”
NBA legend Andrew Bogut threatened to stoke his long-running feud with Cambage after a brutal response to her withdrawal from the Olympics.
Bogut - who has regularly engaged in social media feuds with Cambage in the past - apparently wasn't buying the Aussie star's explanation.
The former NBA champion responded to a tweet that appeared to question the validity of Cambage's claims, considering the reports about her bad behaviour.
On Friday evening, former South East Melbourne Phoenix assistant coach Ian Stacker tweeted: “Mental health is a significant issue for our community. Every time a sports star or celebrity uses ‘mental health’ as an excuse for deplorable behaviour totally frustrates those dealing with real issues.”
Bogut retweeted the post with the caption: “Amen.”
The Aussie basketball legend then retweeted another social media user's post that suggested the Opals would be better off without Cambage and her "embarrassing behaviour".
Cambage's absence wasn't enough to stop the Aussies laying down a warning to their Olympic rivals with a thrilling three-point win against heavyweights, the USA.
The Opals handed the American women their second straight loss in pre-Olympic exhibitions on Friday, getting 17 points from Ezi Magbegor to win 70-67.
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