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Nigeria player denies Liz Cambage claims: ‘She called us monkeys’

(Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

Liz Cambage, who allegedly directed a racial slur at Nigerian players while playing for the Australia national basketball team in 2021, now intends to play for Nigeria — or so she claimed Monday in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks.

The former WNBA star also denied using a slur, instead saying she is being used as a “scapegoat” by the Australian Opals.

“Why does Nigeria want me to leave Australia and go and represent them?” said Cambage, whose father is Nigerian. “We’re filing for me to leave the Australian team, so I can represent Nigeria. I’ve been in cahoots, I’ve been talking to them since all of this happened. This is what I mean, people don’t know the truth.”

Several Nigerian players and basketball officials have disputed both of Cambage’s assertions. Cambage is not in talks to play for the Nigeria national team, and she did indeed direct a slur at its players during a 2021 scrimmage, Nigerian representatives said.

“I’m sorry but this is false,” Nigerian guard Promise Amukamara wrote Monday as part of a Twitter thread. “She called us monkeys and told us to go back to our country. Yes she said that!

“Literally everyone from both teams have the same story BUT her, so y’all do the math!”

Nigerian guard Sarah Ogoke also weighed in, writing: “We are not recruiting you and you definitely spewed racist profanities against us during our scrimmage.”

Jordin Canada, who played with Cambage during her brief and rocky tenure with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2022, also pushed back after the interview. “I usually keep to myself and mind my business but Bleacher Report if y’all want the REAL TRUTH, call me,” Canada wrote.

Nigerian basketball officials also have denied speaking with Cambage about playing for the national team, ESPN contributor Colin Udoh reported Tuesday.

“I don’t know who she’s talking to,” Nigeria Basketball Federation vice president Babs Ogunade told Udoh.

When Cambage went to the Nigerian team to apologize in the immediate aftermath of the 2021 scrimmage, she brought up the possibility of playing for Nigeria with then-coach Otis Hughely, but the discussions have not progressed further, per Udoh’s report and Amukamara’s Twitter thread.

Meanwhile, Australia coach Sandy Brondello has cut short any speculation about a return to the Opals, telling CodeSports on Aug. 4 that the “door has closed” on Cambage’s time with the team.

“We spend a lot of time on culture and if you can’t buy into the culture, I won’t pick you,” Brondello said. “It is as simple as that.”

In her interview with Bleacher Report, Cambage detailed her struggles with the Opals, from teammates wearing blackface to coaches fostering friction between teammates. And she expressed optimism about the possibility of playing for Nigeria at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“I really hope Australia releases me and FIBA allows it because my fans miss me playing,” she said. “I would love to do another Olympics. Paris would be fab… My last Olympics was hideous. Rio Olympics was horrible. The Rio Olympics was one of the worst times of my life, and that’s a reflection of the coaching staff and the team.

“I would love to start fresh with teammates that understand me, look like me and appreciate me and respect me. I have been talking with the Nigerian coach. It was every day when this all first happened. Coach Otis and I are pretty tight and he has my back.”

Cambage concluded the interview once more emphasizing her desire to play for Nigeria.

“I really hope it happens because I want to go to another Olympics,” she said, “And I really respect those girlies.”

Midge Purce-Backed Docuseries ‘The Offseason’ to Drop This Summer

cast of the offseason nwsl reality series
'The Offseason' follows a group of NWSL stars as they prepare for preseason play. (The Offseason)

The Offseason, a reality series created by Gotham and USWNT star Midge Purce, has officially confirmed its streaming debut, Purce announced in Cannes on Tuesday.

The six-episode, half-hour docuseries will stream this summer on X, though a specific premiere date hasn't yet been set.

The Offseason was filmed in Miami, two weeks before the NWSL preseason. It's a crucial time for athletes, a period where they prepare to join their respective teams and compete for both starting and roster spots. Production designed all the facilities, bringing in top-tier trainers, masseuses, chefs, and gym equipment to create a high-level training environment, ensuring the players were in peak condition, per the show's release. Throughout filming, athletes lived together in one house — a reality TV conceit rife for entertainment.

The series follows a number of NWSL stars, including Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Maria Sanchez (Houston Dash), Lo’eau LaBonta (Kansas City Current), Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash), Taylor Smith (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Nikki Stanton (OL Reign), Ally Watt (Orlando Pride), Taryn Torres (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Paige Nielsen (Angel City FC), and Ify Onumonu (Utah Royals).

"We wanted to create a series that truly captures the essence of what it means to be a professional athlete," said Purce. "This series has always been about more than just sports — it's about the human experience behind the athlete, as well."

The show promises a behind-the-scenes look at professional women's sports, teasing major life decisions, on-field tensions, and players taking stock of the environments they'll be entering once their preseason trip is over. The series delves into the real-life challenges faced by the athletes, including club trades, contract negotiations, burnout, and the relentless pressure from outsiders commenting on the players' personal lives.

The Offseason's official trailer, released on Tuesday, shows snippets of Hubly contemplating retirement, Sanchez joining the group after signing a high-profile contract, and a healthy amount of banter about on-field achievements.

The spirit of the series is reflected in its producers: Box To Box Films is known for their sports content (Drive to Survive, Break Point, Full Swing), whereas 32 Flavors is the creative force behind Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The series was funded by Seven Seven Six, and executive produced by Purce.

Lilia Vu adds Meijer LPGA Classic to tour wins record

Lilia Vu won in her first tournament in two months. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lilia Vu won her fifth LPGA Tour event on Sunday, taking home the Meijer LPGA Classic title in her first tournament since March. 

The world No. 2 had been sidelined with a back injury, but returned with a vengeance. She began the day eight shots back of leader Grace Kim, and survived a three-hole playoff against Kim and former champion Lexi Thompson to take the title. 

“I think this is the most meaningful win,” said Vu, “because there was a time two months ago where I was just crying on the range not being sure if I would ever play a tournament again without pain.”

A two-time major champion, Vu hadn’t before won the Meijer LPGA Classic, but a birdie on the third playoff hole helped secure it. She’s now 2-for-3 in LPGA Tour playoffs. 

She said on Sunday that being unable to defend her title at the Chevron Championship was the “breaking point” in her season.

“Not being able to compete there really killed me,” she said. “I feel like I thought I was taking the steps in the right direction, but I’m glad that I was able to take a couple months off and reevaluate my body, let it recover, do what I needed to do to get back out here again.

“And we did the right thing and took two months off. I think it hurt me not to play competitive golf because I literally live for competitive golf, but we did the right thing and that’s why I’m here today.”

Top tennis players pull out of Olympics citing health reasons

Aryna Sabalenka will not play in the Olympics. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka joined a growing list of tennis stars opting out of the Olympics on Monday.

Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and world No. 3, told reporters in Berlin that she was looking after her health while citing WTA tournament participation requirements. The Belarusian had struggled with a stomach bug during the French Open, where she lost in the semifinals of a major for the first time since 2022. 

“Especially with all the struggles I was having last month, I feel like I need to take care of my health. … It’s too much with the scheduling,” Sabalenka said. “It’s just too much. I made the decision to take care of my health.”

Similarly, Jabeur cited the health risks that come with the change of surface. The world No. 10 has been battling knee injuries this season, and lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Coco Gauff. 

Players will spend the next few weeks playing on grass in the lead-up to Wimbledon, while the Olympics will be played at Roland-Garros and be held on clay. 

“After consulting with my medical team regarding attending the Olympics in Paris, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk and jeopardize the rest of my season,” Jabeur posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics. I have always loved representing my country in any competition, However, I must listen to my body and follow my medical team’s advice.”

The two join Emma Raducanu in opting out of the Olympics. Raducanu – who has dealt with a number of injuries since her US Open win in 2021 – cited the changing surface as “not worth the risk.”

Jaedyn Shaw Breaks NWSL Record for Most Goals Scored as a Teenager

Jaedyn Shaw of the san diego wave
Jaedyn Shaw is now holds the record for most NWSL goals as a teenager. (Julia Kapros-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaedyn Shaw continues to make NWSL history, surpassing Trinity Rodman for the most NWSL goals by a teenager on Saturday. 

She did it in a game against Rodman's Washington Spirit in the 20th minute of the 1-1 draw. It brings her total to 13 league goals, after making her NWSL debut at 17 years old in July 2022. 

The goal is her third this season. Shaw currently leads Wave alongside Makenzy Doniak. 

Shaw has also been a member of the USWNT, alongside Rodman, netting seven goals over 14 national team appearances. If she gets called up to this summer’s Olympics under Emma Hayes, it will mark her first official tournament with the USWNT.

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