Cambage ruled out of Australia squad after skipping camp
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Liz Cambage has been ruled out Australia's squad for games against Japan and the Oceania Olympic qualifying series against New Zealand after skipping a training camp to attend a music festival.
Cambage had been recalled to national duties last week following nine months on the sidelines after rupturing her Achilles, but Basketball Australia issued a brief statement late Sunday saying the 23-year-old center had ''made herself unavailable'' for the games against Japan starting Monday and had been scrubbed from the Oceania championships as a consequence.
''Basketball Australia will continue to assist Cambage in her rehabilitation from an Achilles injury,'' the three-paragraph statement said.
Cambage had been due for a medical assessment on Sunday in Melbourne but stayed at the music festival, telling News Corp Australia that she was fulfilling an earlier commitment.
''I've been doing everything I can to keep everyone happy,'' she told the Herald Sun newspaper. ''I am devastated as anyone who knows how much I love representing my country. But I am a person that does not pull out of things, whether it's a professional commitment, a personal commitment or as a basketballer for my country.''
Fellow WNBA player and Australian veteran Lauren Jackson said she was ''baffled'' by Cambage's decision.
''I don't know what the real reason is; I just hope that whatever reason she's chosen to be there is just as important as what an Olympic gold medal is - because this is preparation for it,'' Jackson was quoted as saying.
Coach Brendan Joyce, who last week said having Cambage back was a bonus for the squad, said the decision to cut one of his star players difficult but necessary.
''We haven't been emotional about it - it's a decision that had to be made, not only for Liz but for the team,'' he told the Australian Associated Press. ''Liz has been fully abreast of her responsibilities and what's required, not only from the cultural point of view but also the medical side of it.''
Australia and New Zealand meet in a two-game series starting Aug. 15, with the winner sealing a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.