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BRA - All in a day's work for MVP Erika
NEIVA (FIBA Americas Championship for Women) - Brazil are not a one-woman team, but they're certainly not as dominant in the Americas if center Erika de Souza isn't on the floor.
The veteran reminded everyone of that fact in Neiva, Colombia, where she scooped MVP honors at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship for Women after leading her national team on an unbeaten run to the gold medal.
By reaching the top of the podium, Brazil qualified for the London Games.
Erika, who averaged 16.2 points and eight rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game, had to leave the Atlanta Dream during the WNBA play-offs in order to help Brazil qualify for the Olympics.
An injury prevented her from competing at the Olympics in 2008.
"To play, to wear the Brazilian jersey, is worth everything," Erika said.
"I came here to help my teammates."
Erika will now return to the United States and hope to celebrate a title there, too.
The Dream are in the Finals and lost Game 1 on Sunday to Minnesota, 88-74.
Erika is Atlanta's starting center and without her, they were out-rebounded by the Lynx, 40-28, and also outscored in the lane, 52-30.
"Look at the rebounds,'' Erika's Atlanta teammate, Lindsey Harding said.
"We needed her."
After the WNBA Finals, Erika's busy schedule resumes with a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, for the Pan American Games.
That event gets underway in 11 days.
Erika will then travel to Spain to compete for defending EuroLeague Women champions, Perfumerias Avenida.
Once her European commitments finish, Brazil expect Erika to be fully concentrated on the national team as they prepare for the Olympics.
"We will bring Erika back to Brazil so that she can train from the start," Brazil women's national teams director Hortencia Marcari said.
"Our idea is not to let her go to the WNBA (for next season).
"She is crucial to our team."