Liz Cambage is with her Australian national team this offseason. And she’s still getting into it with the referees.
The 6-foot-8, 216-pound Las Vegas Aces star was ejected in the fourth quarter of a pre-Olympic tournament loss to Japan last week. It’s her latest ejection or refereeing incident, and this time Australia’s head of women’s basketball, Lauren Jackson, a former Australian star big herself, called the player out.
Jackson tells Cambage to ‘suck it up’
Jackson is the country’s most decorated basketball star and made her debut with the national team, known as the Opals, in 1997. She won two silvers and a bronze at the Olympic Games.
She told the AAP while she sympathizes with Cambage in terms of not getting calls in the post, she told her star she needs to find out a way to deal with it and stay in games.
"I get it. I know it's frustrating and it's never going to change so she's just going to have to suck it up," Jackson told AAP.
"That's international basketball and it may not be fair.
"Tall people, we always get hit. We're big and she is big and she's one of the best players in the world right now.
"I think for Lizzie to move through this she's just got to look forward and think about how she's going to cope with being treated like that by the referees because it's not going to stop."
Cambage has been ejected and faced a multitude of technical fouls in the WNBL in Australia and the WNBA. She was ejected from the Commonwealth Games final in 2018 after only nine minutes of playing time (she scored 10 points).
Cambage swings back at ‘suck it up’
Cambage shared the ESPN article on Twitter and wrote, “or we can send refs that actually have experience reffing talent who aren’t biased or intimidated. Did you even watch the games @laurenej15?”
The international star has spoken about referring before. In 2018, she alleged that WNBA referees are trying to “suppress” games by giving players technicals for showing emotions to make them more “ladylike.”
Cambage on the officiating: "I don’t understand why our emotion ... is being suppressed That is part of who we are. We are women and we are powerful. It makes me feel like they’re trying to make us more ladylike, but that’s not how we play. We play like fierce women."
— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) July 18, 2018
In terms of the WNBA, she’s not alone. Skylar Diggins-Smith and even Elena Delle Donne, known to be as diplomatic as possible, spoke out at the time. Refereeing in the WNBA has taken a larger focus in 2019 with various issues and the collective bargaining agreement up for review.
Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, a fellow center, was suspended after a near-brawl this summer. She was angry that refs weren’t making calls on the fouls against her and called it “getting abused.”
There is no doubt that calls are being missed on elite stars down low. Smaller players who match up against the world’s top talent have a hard time keeping up and hold them as a result. They’d rather take the chance on fouls than give up buckets, which has worked in their favor.
There’s a happy medium between Jackson, who wants her star player on the court in big games rather than T’d out, and Cambage, who wants proper referees to call the game fairly.
just one of those days I gotta remind myself to breathe deeply, hold my tongue and save it all for the book
— Elizabeth Cambage (@ecambage) November 21, 2019
That book is going to be a doozy.
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