Basketball-Cambage 'third world' jibe sparked Nigeria brawl - O'Hea

FILE PHOTO: Australia's Liz Cambage celebrates with fans after the women's bronze medal basketball match against Russia at the North Greenwich Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Former Australia captain Jenna O'Hea said on Sunday that a Liz Cambage jibe about Nigeria being a third world country was behind the brawl at a pre-Olympic warm up game in Las Vegas last year.

WNBA All Star Cambage subsequently pulled out of the Australia squad for the Tokyo Olympics citing mental health issues and was later formally reprimanded by Basketball Australia for "prohibited conduct" over the incident.

Asked to confirm whether Cambage had told the Nigerian players to "go back to your third world country" during the game on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV show on Sunday, O'Hea said: "That is all 100% correct".

O'Hea, who led Opals to a quarter-final exit in Tokyo, said she had not spoken to Cambage since the incident and did not think the 30-year-old would ever play for Australia again.

Cambage said last December that she had "zero" interest in representing Australia at the World Cup on home soil in September and October this year.

She explained last year that she had withdrawn from her third Olympics because she was suffering from anxiety and did not think she could cope with being in a "bubble" environment in Tokyo.

The center did not to play in the 2020 WNBA season, which took place in a bubble in Florida, after receiving a medical exemption.

Her current WNBA team, the Los Angeles Sparks, did not reply to a request for comment on Sunday.

Cambage, who was born in London to an Australian mother and Nigerian father, commented on the incident during the Nigeria game in an Instagram post last year.

"Things got heated in the Nigeria game," she said. "There was a physical altercation and there were words exchanged."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, Additional reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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