Australian basketball great Andrew Gaze has responded to Liz Cambage’s statement which detailed his version of events from the infamous incident with the Nigerian basketball team in a draw ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
After a report from sun herald was posted on Sunday, Cambage took to Instagram on Monday to refute allegations regarding the alleged racial slur she said to her Nigerian opponents.
She reportedly told her opponents to “go back to their third world country”, and she hasn’t played for the Opals since.
Gaze, who called Cambage’s previous allegations towards the Opals ‘disgusting’, addressed the revelation on SEN’s Race Home.
“The only reason these (allegations) have come up over the past few weeks is as a result of his comments which were very negative comments around Basketball Australia and in particular, the Opals and I extrapolate this…to the relationship that she had with her players,” Gaze began.
“I think her comments were very hurtful, indicating that she didn’t believe she was given a safe environment and an environment where she felt supported, loved and cared for.
“I haven’t been there for a long stretch of his career with the Opals, but I was there for a game, and I couldn’t disagree more with those comments.
“As I said a few weeks ago, I find them offensive, because I know how much support she has had.
“It’s a really sad situation because an athlete who could potentially become one of the greatest basketball players, not just in Australian history, but in world history, and because of a conflict that existed and maybe that conflict led to his version of events…that will now hurt his legacy, and that should be a legacy that we all as a nation should be proud of because the nation did an amazing job supporting her from a very young age.
“Because of those comments and his version of events, we are now faced with this situation where it will be very difficult for him to change that narrative.”
Gaze continued: “She is highly unlikely to play for Australia again, she has lost the support of many of her team-mates and an entire nation, after what I think has been some very good journalism. ‘investigation by (the Herald Sun) Matt Logue…he was able to get access to two of the players who were actually there, and the videos he obtained, as I understand it, are from them (the team Nigerian).
“For her to say she didn’t intentionally hit (the opposing player), I don’t know how you could say that when you look at the vision, the vision is there for everyone to see, it is a very, very vicious blow she lands on the Nigerian player.
“I don’t know how you could argue it wasn’t intentional, if anyone knows anything about basketball they would see it’s a very, very high elbow, and yes, she’s tall, (but) it is a vicious who caused a laceration in the neck of a Nigerian girl.
“Others have a different understanding and a different version of what happened, and unfortunately with this statement that Liz made, again, based on my understanding of the statement, it fails to acknowledge that others thought she was doing things differently.
“All I can do, because I wasn’t there, is go to the comments of not just one couple, but a lot of people who are very, very close to them, and they’re very consistent on what happened and what was said.
“So I think it’s very difficult to accept his position based on the consistency of others, there’s no reason to think that they would all come together and make up the story which is remarkably similar for trying to hurt Liz.
“So it saddens me because she is someone very talented, who has contributed a lot with her performances at the Opals, and who we love to embrace and with this type of response and the language she has used is unacceptable by anyone and that’s sad.”
The five-time Olympian was then asked what the next step in history would be.
“Well, it’s my understanding that for the foreseeable future she won’t be playing for Australia,” Gaze said.
“Here we have a World Cup coming up on Australian soil which should be a headline event for us to win at least one medal. Make no mistake, we are much, much better off with her in the squad. as a player. (But) based on what’s been said, we’re far, much better off (not having her) because of the conflict that seems to have been caused by her language and behavior.
“So it’s hopelessly disappointing, but I’d like to think – she’s got a lot of life to live – and one day in the future she can find peace.
“I don’t want to hurt her, I want her to love this nation, I want her to love the Opals, and despite these really difficult circumstances, I hope that at some point, and that’s probably long time past, which she can look back with great pride on the contribution she was able to make.
Liz Cambage has denied racially slurring the Nigerian basketball team in the now infamous pre-Olympic scratch game.
It is the former Opal’s first in-depth public comment on the incident, which exploded earlier this year when former captain Jenna O’Hea confirmed hearing Cambage telling Nigerian players to “go back to your country from Third World”.
Cambage was reprimanded for this incident and has not played for the Opals since.
It comes after the sun herald published footage of Cambage elbowing a player in a draw against Nigeria ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, while multiple sources also confirmed hearing racial slurs in the article.
Taking to Instagram, Cambage released a statement on Monday afternoon which refutes the allegation that she was racist towards the Nigerian team.
She claims her elbow “unintentionally” grabbed the Nigerian player, while adding the revelation that she wanted to sit out the game for mental health reasons.
“The incident which occurred during the pre-Olympic scrimmage with the Nigerian team was dealt with in private almost a year ago,” the statement read.
“I am very disappointed and hurt by the events and accusations that have unfolded in the Australian media. The account of what happened is inaccurate and misleading.
“I did not use the racial slur towards the Nigerian team that was circulated.
“After unintentionally fouling a Nigerian player on the pitch, I was then physically attacked by that player on the sideline of my bench. I was punched in the face and pushed to the ground, but I got myself Before the match, I asked to be absent because I was concerned about my mental and physical health, which I spoke about publicly.
“We didn’t have professional referees to manage and prioritize the safety of both teams during this very physical scrum.
“This is not an excuse or justification for the events that transpired or my actions, however, I believe that a full picture of the environment that led to this outcome should be shared. I have assumed responsibility. responsibility and accountability for my involvement in what happened.I have sincerely apologized to the Nigerian team and again am sorry that these events are being re-enacted.
“I really hope that I can move forward after this incident and apply concrete efforts to be at my best.”