LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 17, 2010) – When it comes to the 2010 PBR World Cup, it is Brazil’s to win or lose.
The Brazilian contingent, after getting beaten on their home turf last year by Team USA, is looking to return the favor with a commanding points lead at the end of Saturday’s rounds three and four.
Heading into the last two rounds on Sunday at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of UNLV, Team Brazil is 360 points – or four 90-point rides – ahead of Team USA, which has 523.75 points.
Team USA is realistically the only team that can catch Team Brazil, which has a blistering 885.75 points. The next closest, Team Australia, with 352.75 points, would need 6 qualified rides of 89 points or better, along with having Team Brazil ride nothing in the final day of competition, to have any chance to catch the Brazilians.
Team Mexico or Team Canada, with 262.25 and 261.25 points respectively, can not catch the Brazilian powerhouse, even if either team puts up six solid scores on Sunday.
Unless you were wearing the Brazilian team colors, you didn’t have much success in Saturday night’s pair of rounds. Brazil put up three scores in each of the rounds – the maximum number the team captain could keep – and had scores to spare, that got discarded.
High score in each of the two rounds was an 89.5, and in both cases, it was Renato Nunes who posted the points. Nunes also put up the highest score of the competition so far, his 90.5 pointer in round one Friday night.
Nunes is one of four riders who have stepped up and posted three qualified rides in the four rounds so far. Helping Team Brazil’s standing also Robson Palermo (266 points) and Guilherme Marchi (262.50 points), each of whom also have put up three scores.
Keeping Team USA in the race has been Austin Meier, with three qualified scores in the first four rounds, including two Saturday night. Meier has a total of 259.25 points.
Three other members of Team USA have put up a single qualified score. McKennon Wimberly had a 90.25 Friday night in round two. In round one on Friday, Mike Lee scored 85.75. Saturday night it was Ryan McConnel’s turn , as he fought for his 88.5 pointer in round three.
Travis Briscoe is the only member of Team USA that remains scoreless. In the press conference following Saturday’s rounds, team captain JW Hart said that was in large part because Briscoe was taking on some of the toughest bulls … bulls that none of the other team members wanted.
In that press conference, Hart was asked if given the chance to pick a Team USA again before Sunday’s round, who would he pick. Hart didn’t waiver at all, and said he would pick the same team he had for the first two nights of competition, without question.
After Hart’s statement, Team Brazil captain Adriano Moraes said the question was unfair, because “if Team USA was in first place, you would never ask that.” Moraes said that all of the team captains still believed in their respective teams, regardless of the overall standing.
Hart did admit that he was surprised by the difficulties Team USA has had in getting qualified rides, but also noted that there were at least a few questionable calls by judges, where riders should have received re-rides but didn’t.
Had those riders received the re-rides they deserved, Hart said, “I think we’d be looking at a different picture here.”
Some of the teams are starting to see members fall to injury as well. In round three, Australia’s Ben Jones took a hard shot to the head, and was replaced in round four by the team alternate, Jason O’Hearn. Team USA saw several team members take hard hits, but all are still expected to ride on Sunday.
For Team Canada, it was lead rider Aaron Roy that will not be riding on Sunday. Roy has been struggling with a torn up knee he injured several weeks prior. In round four on Saturday, he also took a direct hit – face to horn – and had to be assisted out of the arena. He is out of the competition, Team Canada captain Cody Snyder said after Saturday’s rounds. Snyder said it was obvious Roy’s knee injury was also affecting his riding ability in the rounds. Team Canada is the only other team that brought an alternate rider.
Members of every team took hard hits and contact from multiple hang-ups in Saturday’s rounds, as each rider fought to hold on to the 8-second mark. The hang-ups, and bulls seeking retribution after putting a rider to the dirt, kept the Dickies Bull fighters busy all night, as several riders had to be pulled free or rescued as the bull turned on the rider once he was down. The riders, for the most part, escaped battered and bruised but, other than those mentioned above, still able to compete.
Sunday will see the final rounds of the 2010 PBR World Cup. Defending champs Team USA will surely be hoping for the same surprise ending as it found last year in Brazil, when it came down to the last ride to steal the win from Team Brazil. Brazil needs just a few solid rides – two solid scoring qualified rides would make them almost unbeatable – to tie up the win.
The action continues live in the Thomas and Mack Center at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time, but for those watching at home, set those DVRs, as Versus is scheduled to be airing the rounds late Sunday night. The in-arena commentary can also be heard live through a link found on the pbrnow.com website.