PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 03: DeLisha Milton-Jones #8 of the Los Angeles Sparks puts up a shot over Candice Dupree #4 of the Phoenix Mercury during the WNBA game at US Airways Center on September 3, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
A story that was first reported by Swish Appeal writer James Bowman has now been confirmed by the Atlanta Dream. Atlanta center Erika De Souza has played her last game in the Conference Finals and has left the team to join the Brazilian National Team to play in the FIBA America Championship for Women. According to the release by the Dream, De Souza is expected to return to the Dream immediately following the tournament.
Of course with Atlanta facing elimination on Sunday, there may not be anything to return to this season. Atlanta lost Game 1 to Indiana on Thursday with De Souza finishing with eight points and 13 rebounds. Allison Bales is the likely candidate to replace De Souza in the starting lineup with Sandora Irvin and Courtney Paris likely seeing more playing time.
As a fan I am completely conflicted here. Maybe this is something that the WNBA has had to deal with before but as a newer fan that comes with an NBA background, I was completely blindsided by this announcement. On one hand I can completely respect the need for a foreign born player to represent their home country but it leaves Atlanta and in my opinion, the WNBA in a very precarious spot.
We will continue to update this story if more details become available but in the meantime, the Atlanta Dream's return trip to the Finals just got that much tougher. Be sure and check out Swish Appeal for any other developments and James Bowman's reaction as well.