Liz Cambage is back in Australia, and this time, it’s personal.
After a season away from the league where she began her career, basketball superstar Liz Cambage has returned to her native Australia’s WNBL, with vengeance in her heart and eyes set on a championship run. Cambage signed a short term deal to join the Jayco Southside Flyers, a newly rebranded organization that the center began her career with as a junior league player way back in 2007, when she was 15.
“I swore I wouldn’t be back, I swore I wouldn’t play in the WNBL again,” Cambage told the Sydney Morning Herald, thinking back to her last one year stint in the WNBL with the Melbourne Boomers in 2018. Then, Cambage led the Boomers to a championship berth, coming within one game of the chip before losing to the Townsville Fire in the WNBL’s ‘Grand Final’. During this 2017-2018 campaign, Cambage grew discontent “with her treatment at the hands of opponents, referees, and the league itself,” per the Herald’s Roy Ward.
“It’s very frustrating me playing here,” said Cambage, who stands out among WNBL players for both her elite level of skill and physical dominance, “I’m continuously told by referees how hard it is to ref me. I don’t like having to shrink my game, make my game smaller because other people can’t handle it. But I have to push through it this season.”
But no part of Liz’s game seemed shrunk Thursday as she led her Flyers to victory against Townsville, the same team that dared stand between her and a championship two seasons ago.
In this Liz Cambage revenge game (the four scariest words in the English language), Cambage dropped a nuclear 31 points on 68% shooting, grabbing 14 boards and blocking 6 shots as well. There is no stopping this woman. She made 80% of shots from inside the three point line, and only missed one of her paint attempts the whole game. Between her height, excellent hands, and lay-up finesse, Liz Cambage is the perfect post player. She makes it easy for her teammates: If Liz is in the post, just throw the ball up towards the basket. She’ll elevate high, high above the rest of the team, catch the ball, and effortlessly put it in the bucket.
If that’s not enough, Lizzie is also a skilled ball handler, able to take the ball at the key and glide her way inside with a combination of power and dexterity. Cambage is almost unguardable, and as opponents have to give her developing three point shot more and more respect, it’s game over for not only the rest of the WNBL–but the rest of the women’s basketball world.
On the other end of the floor, Liz and her 6’8 frame have linked in perfectly to the championship-caliber defense that propelled Southside to the Grand Final back in 2019. When Cambage is defending in the paint, you can see the entire opposing offense calibrate around avoiding her, forcing players to dish out of the post or avoid the post entirely. And it’s easy to see why when a ball-handler does have the deep misfortune of sharing the paint with Cambage. Liz Cambage will pin you down with her steely gaze, locking you into focus before swatting your shot, or, in some cases, just ripping the ball right out of your hand, “give me that” style. Scoring on Cambage is just as big, if not bigger, of a challenge as keeping her from scoring.
Having missed the 2020 WNBA season due to a coronavirus scare, it seems that Cambage is committed to making up for lost time by taking her revenge on the entire WNBL and burning it to the ground. While Cambage has maintained that her primary motivation in joining up with the Flyers is to stay in shape for the (hopefully) upcoming Tokyo Olympics, the superstar hasn’t been shy about her championship aspirations, nor her belief that the Flyers have what it take to bring home the title. “We have kind of a cheat code this year,” said Cambage, explaining that the team is deep enough to stay dominant even when she’s off the floor, or taking a game off to rest. “[The Flyers] had a great first year and I am keen to help them go one better and win the championship.
“December 21st?,” Cambage told the Sydney Morning Herald, looking ahead to the end of the season, “I will be on the flight home, hungover, with the championship trophy in my lap.”
All stats courtesy of fibalivestats.com.