MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia have dumped leading women's basketball player Liz Cambage from Olympic qualifiers after she skipped the first day of a training camp to attend a rock festival.
As her team mates assembled for training in wintry Melbourne on Sunday, the 23-year-old former WNBA All Star was attending the 'Splendour in the Grass' festival in Byron Bay, an idyllic coastal resort some 1,600 kms (994 miles) away in balmy northern New South Wales.
Cambage has been recovering from a serious Achilles injury but had been expected to be available for the national team's warmup matches against Japan before Olympic qualifiers against New Zealand starting Aug. 15.
Basketball Australia (BA) said in a statement Cambage had made herself "unavailable" for the Opals' warmups against Japan.
"As a consequence, Cambage is unavailable for selection for the upcoming FIBA Oceania Championships where the Jayco Australian Opals will play New Zealand starting August 15 in Melbourne," BA said.
"Basketball Australia will continue to assist Cambage in her rehabilitation from an Achilles injury."
Opals coach Brendan Joyce told local media the team had grudgingly allowed her to attend the festival so long as she turned up on Sunday.
“At the end of the day we tried to compromise but you can only compromise so far, otherwise we would be jeopardizing her own health by not putting her through a training session,” Joyce told Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper.
“And we would be jeopardizing the team by someone deciding they want to come in when they want to come in.
“The team comes first and we are player-driven. The team is disappointed and everyone is, but everyone understands and supports the decision that was made by the coaching staff and
Cambage told the paper she was a paid “host” for a band at the festival and agreed to the gig because of uncertainty over the timing of the Opals camp and the Japan series.
She added that she was blindsided by BA's media release that ruled her out of the games.
"I have been doing everything I can to keep everyone happy," the paper quoted her as saying.
“I am devastated as anyone who knows me knows how much I love representing my country.
“I want nothing more than to return to the court in my home town of Melbourne in August, which is why I am once again asking Basketball Australia to let me attend this camp.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)