According to a translated account from the Brazil Basketball Confederation, the Brazilian women's basketball team leaves on Friday, September 16th for Neiva, Columbia to take part in the FIBA Americas Championship for Women in 2011. This is an important tournament for the Brazilian women because their chances for Olympic qualification will depend on how well they do.
Supposedly, Atlanta Dream center Erika de Souza has committed to helping the Brazilian women qualify for the Olympics. The tournament takes place from September 24th through October 1st, right in the heart of WNBA playoff season. One might assume that once the fate of Brazil was known one way or the other, Erika would return - but would Atlanta still be in the fight?
As for Iziane Castro Marques, the director of Brazilian women's selections Hortencia Marcari said that Iziane will remain in the United States because her contract with the Dream ends this season and she fears that the WNBA doors will shut on her if she leaves for the tournament.
To think of the Dream without Erika de Souza changes things significantly for Atlanta during the playoffs.
Update: A picture on the Atlanta Dream's Facebook page has Erika de Souza arriving in Connecticut for the first game. So more than likely, she'll play for the Dream tomorrow night.
Update #2: According to a Brazilian poster on RebKell, this Twitter message from Erika de Souza indicates that she is prepared to miss the Americas championship if the Dream make it to the WNBA Finals.
Update #3: Or maybe not. Read here. The latest rumor is that Erika de Souza would play in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, and then not return until Game Two of the WNBA Finals.
Update #4: Now confirmed that de Souza will miss games, but we don't know which ones.