The full, explosive extent of Liz Cambage’s pre-Olympic outburst against Nigeria that ended her Opals career can finally be revealed.
Liz Cambage called Nigerian players “monkeys” during a vicious five minute Las Vegas meltdown that led to the basketball superstar walking out on her Australian Opals teammates ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
A special Sunday Telegraph investigation has obtained video that clearly shows Cambage elbowing her Nigerian opponent in the head during a closed-door practice match in Las Vegas, setting off a shocking chain of events.
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In the ensuing mayhem Cambage slaps another Nigerian player across the face and racially vilifies the entire African team by labelling them “monkeys” and telling them to “go back to your third world country”.
Embarrassed Australian team officials were forced to call off the practice game before the end of the second quarter.
The Nigerian players who spoke to this special investigation on the condition their identities would not be revealed have claimed they heard Cambage say “go back to your third world country” and called them “monkeys”.
“That’s what I recall, the term monkeys, yes. And go back to where you came from,” one Nigerian player said. “She definitely did use monkeys or monkey.”
Another player told this investigation: “I was on the court. She definitely said go back to your third world country. I didn’t hear it, but (teammates) confirmed she called us monkeys.”
The Sunday Telegraph investigation also revealed Cambage told Nigerian players before the practice match that she wished she was playing for Nigeria because her Australian teammates were racist.
An Opals player who attended the Las Vegas camp in June last year said Cambage’s outburst pushed the team to breaking point and was the final straw.
“There had been so many behavioural issues that had gone on previously that we could write a book, but that (Vegas) incident happened to be the final straw which happened to be the worst one,” they said.
Cambage, whose father is Nigerian, apologised to the African team a day later but it wasn’t well received by every player.
“I think it was bulls***. I don’t think it was a sincere apology,” said one Nigerian player.
Another player believes Cambage showed no remorse.
“Although she’s Australian we knew she was half Nigerian so before then it was like she was one of us,” she said.
“That was another thing to cut deep, for her to do that and not show any remorse at all.”
Australian and Nigerian players decided to break their silence after Cambage took aim at her former Opals teammates in a recent interview with ABC Sport.
Cambage, now playing with the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA, said in a pre-season media event that she now felt “protected on a level that the Opals, or the Australian team, never gave to me”, and said she never felt the Opals wanted her “to be the best I can be”.
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