Souza back in the mix for Brazil at Rio test event
RIO DE JANEIRO (2016 Rio Olympics) - Veteran star Erika Souza has been brought back into the fold by newly-installed Brazil head coach Antonio Carlos Barbosa and will feature at this month's Olympic test event in Rio.
The WNBA center has not featured for almost 18 months, last appearing at the 2014 FIBA Women's World Championship in Turkey and will bring priceless experience for the host nation. In her absence, Brazil failed to make to the podium at both the Pan-American Games and FIBA Americas Women's Championship last year where they had to settle for successive fourth-place finishes.
Due to turn 34 in March, Souza is bidding to become a three-time Olympian and was the joint-top scorer at London 2012 with Great Britain's Jo Leedham as they both averaged over 16 points per game.
Having her back in the mix also means a poignant reunion with coach Barbosa from one of his earlier stints at the helm of the national team.
Feliz ano novo! Happy new year! pic.twitter.com/PasgO3k0zl— Erika de Souza #14 (@erikasouza14) December 31, 2015
And the play-caller was quick to express his delight with Souza's availability, something helped by the 1.96m centre having recently parted ways with struggling Turkish side Adana Aski.
Barbosa said: "Once again Erika has said she is willing to wear the Brazil vest. It is important to point out that she has relinquished other opportunities to play overseas in order to play for the Brazilian national team.
Erika has always shown responsibility and love for her country. For me, her presence is a source of pride since her first participation in the senior team was with me in 2001. - Barbosa
Brazil have also re-called Karina Jabob and, along with Souza, she will help ease the frontcourt injury crisis that has seen both Damiris Dantas and Nadia Colhado ruled out of the test event through injury.
The CBB have also this week announced the withdrawals of Gilmara Justino, Joice Cristina de Souza Rodrigues, Jaqueline de Paula Silvestre, Tassia Pereira de Souza Carcavalli, Adriana Moises Pinto Mafra, Taina Mayara da Paixao and Tatiane Pacheco Nascimento. Coming in as replacements are Anna Beatriz Oliveira, Carina dos Santos Martins, Palmira Marçal, Mariane Carvalho and Carina Felippus.
The test event also includes Argentina, Australia and Venezuela and takes place at the Carioca Arena on the Barra Olympic Park between 15 and 17 January.