The Liz Cambage Olympics saga still haunts the former Opals captain in the Australia v France clash

Former Opals captain Jenna O’Hea says she is still haunted by Liz Cambage’s ugly exit from the Australian team on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics.

Australia begin their FIBA ​​World Cup campaign on home soil tonight in the first major international tournament since Cambage’s infamous meltdown in a practice match against Nigeria.

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Once close friends with Cambage, O’Hea said she is still coming to terms with her shock departure from the Opals squad just days out from the Olympics last year.

“A lot has changed, still something I’m dealing with today … seven days before the first game at the Olympics last year, she left our team,” she said on ESPN Thursday.

“Rough is an understatement to say.”

Cambage was the focal point of the Opals for several years, and her sudden departure left a hole in the Australian team, which lost to the USA in the quarter-finals.

“Such a key player that left, all of our offense was geared towards her, our defensive schemes, a lot was geared here,” O’Hea said.

Liz Cambage and Jenna O’Hea in happier times.Source: News Limited

“So for her to leave in the circumstances that she left in, it really shook us and I think it showed with our performance and with our result at the end.”

Earlier this year, O’Hea confirmed that Cambage told the Nigerian players to “go back to your third world country” during the warm-up game and said she would never play for the Opals again.

Cambage’s professional basketball career hangs in the balance after she parted ways with her WNBA team, the LA Sparks, as damning details emerged about her mid-season departure.

The 31-year-old will announce in August that she had “decided to step away” from the WNBA.

It means the Opals enter a new era at the world championships in Sydney and get the chance to push for a medal with a fresh squad that includes rising star Ezi Magbegor and veteran comeback hero Lauren Jackson.

“I think there’s a more cohesive group now,” added former Opal Jennie Screen.

“The energy is not just directed at one player. We get the load spread out in relation to what happens on the pitch, where the energy is directed out of the pitch.

The Opals begin a new era without Liz Cambage. Photo: Katharine Lotze/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

“There just seems to be a fine system right now, and you can see that the girls are ready. They are excited to play and I think that chapter is over, we are done, we want to move on and we are going to do it at home.”

The Opals take on France in their first group game tonight, while the USA began their quest for a fourth straight World Cup title with a comfortable win over Belgium.

Opal’s WC squad: Rebecca Allen, Sara Blicavs, Darcee Garbin, Cayla George, Lauren Jackson, Tess Madgen (c), Ezi Magbegor, Anneli Maley, Stephanie Talbot, Marianna Tolo, Kristy Wallace, Sami Whitcomb

Watch every game of the 2022 FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup live and free on ESPN with Kayo Freebies. Sign up now, no credit card required.

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