RIO DE JANEIRO (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women) – The party atmosphere in Brazil after their South American title triumph over Argentina has been cut short following the announcement that star center Erika de Souza will miss the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women in Madrid with a stress fracture.
Erika sustained the injury while playing in the WNBA for the Atlanta Dream.
The loss of the Brazilian is hammer blow to the national team, which faces Spain and Fiji in Group C of the qualifying event before taking on Cuba, Belarus or Chinese Taipei in the quarter-finals.
“Erika has suffered a stress fracture and the recovery time is around four weeks,” Brazil coach Paulo Bassul said. “Hence, she is out of the pre-Olympic.”
Bassul has decided to call up 25-year-old Graziane de Jesus Coelho, the center who has just finished her European campaign with MiZo Pecs 2010 in Hungary.
Graziane will link up with the Selecao in Madrid, where the qualifying tournament tips off on June 9.
This is the second major setback for Bassul because at the weekend, veteran point guard Adrianinha announced she will not play this summer due to personal reasons.
Five places for the Beijing Games are up for grabs in Madrid.
The quarter-final winners advance, while the losers of those ties will compete for the fifth and final spot for China.