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World Finals
The boys from Brazil

As Silvano Alves nears a World Championship, no one is happier than the other Brazilian riders who have battled him all season.

The boys from Brazil

LAS VEGAS - It is a friendship born out of necessity, but it has deepened because of respect for talent and a love of competition.

Other than his best friend Fabiano Vieira, Silvano Alves had never met any of the other Brazilians competing this week at the PBR World Finals until he made his Built Ford Tough Series debut in April of 2010.

Yet in a relatively short amount of time, he and the others - including Valdiron de Oliveira, Robson Palermo, Guilherme Marchi and Renato Nunes - have grown close.

In fact, prior to arriving at the Finals, all 10 of the Brazilian qualifiers spent the off-weekend together at Oliveira's house outside of Decatur, Texas.

Prior to arriving at the Finals, all 10 of the Brazilian qualifiers spent the off-weekend together at Oliveira's house.

So as the event unfolded Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, it was not surprising that Alves was the first man to congratulate Palermo on his third qualified ride of the weekend.

"I met him here and he's a really great guy," said Robson, who first met Alves when he came to the United States less than two weeks before a World Cup event. "He has a big heart."

Palermo's ride and his place in the average - his 88-point effort on Vitalix White Velvet moved him to fourth in average - forced Alves to have to make the whistle. Failing would have meant losing pace and potentially missing the Built Ford Tough Series Championship Round, giving Palermo a realistic chance at winning the word title.

Instead they watched together as Oliveira made a ride. Alves was next, and Palermo's small window of opportunity all but closed when Alves covered Red Man for 87.25 points and ended up fifth in the average.

After four of six rounds, Alves leads Oliveira by 2,050 points. Palermo stays 3,433.75 points back.

There is still a total of 3,500 points available Sunday. However, according to Palermo, with Alves securing a spot in the final round, it becomes a moot point.

"I gave it everything I had," said Palermo, who is competing with a completely torn rotator cuff and is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday in Dallas, "but I think this ride Silvano made, he already won the world title.

"I'm still going and I still have two more bulls to ride."

According to Palermo, there's a brotherhood among the Brazilian riders.

They support one another not only because they enjoy the competition and feed off each other's accomplishments, but because each of them understands that their friends' success allows them to help their respective families financially.

"You want everybody to ride and make a big score," Palermo said.

He said when one rider makes a 91-point ride, it drives the next one to try to score 92 or 93 points.

Palermo's appreciation goes beyond his fellow countrymen.

'I want to thank all the fans - the American fans - for the support. Everywhere we go they say, "Good luck," and pray for us.'

"I want to say thank you to the PBR for all the support," he said. "I want to thank all the fans - the American fans - for the support. Everywhere we go they say, 'Good luck,' and pray for us.

"Las Vegas is my town, and a Brazilian town, too."

Palermo won the World Finals average in 2008 and was a member of the World Cup team that won here in 2010.

This year, five of the Top 6 riders in the world standings - Alves, 1; Oliveira, 2; Palermo, 3; Marchi, 4, and Vieira, 6 - are from Brazil.

Marchi is third in the average and has moved back ahead of Austin Meier into fourth place in the world, while newcomer Rubens Barbosa is second in the average behind Caleb Sanderson, who has 348.25 points on four bulls. Barbosa has moved ahead well ahead of Elton Cide by more than $10,000 in the race for PBR Rookie of the Year.

Barbosa, with 264.75 average points; Marchi, with 264.5; Palermo, 263.25; and Alves, 254, are also among the six riders with the best chance of winning the Finals average.

"I want to walk from this arena and take something home," said Palermo.

If he can maintain a Top 5 position in the average, he'll earn between $250,000 and $43,000 in average money, which doesn't even include the $17,000 he's already earned this week.

He still has two more rounds to try to win, each of which pays $25,000.

"This arena here is the best one you have here in America," he said. "You have great bulls, and all the fans here who come to watch love the bull riding and love to see a big score - they don't care if it's an American or Brazilian.

"If they see somebody make a big score they get crazy - I love that."

The morning line: World Finals, Round 4
The morning line: World Finals, Round 1