Cambage could be kicked out of Olympics

Opals star Elizabeth Cambage has reportedly been involved in a “physical altercation” and broken the team’s COVID-19 bubble, which may jeopardise her Tokyo Olympics campaign with the side.

Basketball Australia is currently investigating an incident with Cambage that is believed to have taken place during a closed warm-up match against Nigeria ahead of the Opals’ quest for gold at the Tokyo Games.

ESPN reported that there was a “charged verbal exchange” as well as a “physical altercation” which prompted “discussions regarding the 6-foot-8 veteran centre’s “potential removal” from the Opals for the Olympics.

The Australian Olympic Commission’s Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman confirmed there was a probe underway on the matter.

“We’ve been informed by Basketball Australia that they’re investigating an issue,” Chesterman told media at a press conference from Tokyo.

“We have not received any further report except for that so it’ll be a matter of them working through with Basketball Australia to see if there’s any resulting decisions that need to be made.

“I don’t know the details, I just know it’s being investigated by Basketball Australia.”

The Opals are currently based in Las Vegas in the States, where Cambage plays for the Aces in the WNBA. The Boomers and several other international basketball teams are also in camp in Vegas before heading to Tokyo for the Olympics.

According to News Corp, Cambage is facing further scrutiny for breaking the Opals COVID-19 protocols by going out in Sin City.

The 29-year-old was seen in attendance at the WNBA All-Star game overnight, after earning her fourth All-Star nod following a huge season with the Aces where she averaged 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds over 19 games.

She did not play in the All-Star game however after a knock at Opals training. Instead she cheered on her WNBA peers courtside, and was snapped on the red carpet.

“Thank you to all the fans, coaches and ladies of the league who voted me in for my fourth All-Star,” Cambage said on Instagram.

“I was so sad I wasn’t able to play after pulling up sore after a hard week of practice with my Australian team, but I’m just so grateful that I was still able to be a part of such a surreal event and be surrounded by so many GOATS of the game on the same day.

“I was there for all of the hugs, all the hype and a lil hunger.”

In between training for the upcoming Games, the Aussie women’s basketball team have attended some warm-up games for their male counterparts, including the Boomers and Team USA, which have been rocked by a positive COVID-19 test to American star Bradley Beal.

As the Opals’ most high-profile and influential player, Cambage’s reported potential exclusion from the squad would be a massive blow to Australia’s Olympic campaign.

Ranked second in the FIBA rankings behind the USA, the Opals are considered major gold medal contenders in Tokyo.

It would also leave the Opals a player short for Tokyo, with Cambage one of just 11 named for the Olympics with no reserve emergency players, an issue which Basketball Australia will be pressed to provide an explanation for.

The Opals were scheduled to play another warm-up game against the USA women’s team on the weekend.

Former Australian Boomer Chris Anstey was highly critical of Cambage amid the reports of the “physical altercation”.

“We’d have a better chance [at an Olympics medal] if she was a part of it, obviously,” Anstey told SEN’s The Captain’s Run.

“At her best, Liz Cambage is one of the best couple of basketball players in the world.

“At her worst, she’s unbearable to be around as a teammate.

“You kind of cross your fingers and hope a little bit with Liz.

“Clearly being in Vegas and being in COVID protocol hasn’t suited her personally.

“It’s disappointing that they can’t stay in the bubble for a short period of time because it really can impact all their teammates, and I suppose us as a basketball public back home.”

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