'On a mission': Liz Cambage schooled by fired-up former teammate

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Ezi Magbegor faced Liz Cambage in the WNBA for the first time since Cambage's controversial exit from the Opals' Olympics campiagn in 2021. Pictures: Getty Images
Ezi Magbegor faced Liz Cambage in the WNBA for the first time since Cambage's controversial exit from the Opals' Olympics campiagn in 2021. Pictures: Getty Images

Liz Cambage faced off against former Australian Opals teammate Ezi Magbegor in their first matchup since Cambage's now infamous exit from the Tokyo Olympics last year.

The WNBA star estranged herself from the rest of the Opals squad after an incident during a practice game against Nigeria prior to the Games, which culminated in Cambage being reprimanded by Basketball Australia.

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Cambage took no further part in the Opals' campaign, and former team captain Jenna O'Hea revealed the reason why earlier this month.

Amid a heated moment on court during the practice game, Cambage allegedly told Nigeran players to 'go back to (their) third world country'.

A number of the Opals took offence to the remark, particularly Magbegor, who is of Nigerian descent.

Just under a year has passed since then, and with the WNBA back in full swing Cambage faced off against Magbegor for the first time since the doomed Olympics campaign.

Magbegor, who was selected 12th overall in the 2019 draft by the Seattle Supersonics, clearly had a point to prove as the Sonics raced out to an 11-point lead early against Cambage's LA Sparks.

The 22-year-old blocked Cambage's shot twice in the first frame, finishing with three for the game to go with nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Cambage turned in an impressive individual performance with 25 points, but was unable to match the firepower of the Sonics through Breanna Stewart (28 points).

Magbegor's fired up performance wasn't lost on Australian fans, who took to social media to laud the performance.

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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.

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.

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

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

Liz Cambage says she is unlikely ever to play for the Australian Opals again. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Liz Cambage says she is unlikely ever to play for the Australian Opals again. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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."

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