LAS VEGAS - Locked in a battle atop the world standings, Silvano Alves and Valdiron de Oliveira couldn't be having two more completely different weeks at the World Finals.
After riding Hee Bee Gee Bee for 86 points to move all the way up to 11th in the overall average, Alves said, "I'm just thankful that once again I didn't get injured and that I gave a good ride to everybody here."
That's been the season-long mantra for the reigning World Champion.
Alves, who has scored 164.25 points on two bulls, is attempting to become the first back-to-back World Champion in PBR history.
He currently has a 203.25-point lead over Oliveira in the world standings after three of six rounds in Las Vegas. Austin Meier is fourth in the event average with 175 points on two bulls and now 1,716.5 points off the pace and right in the hunt for the gold buckle despite being sixth in the standings.
Oliveira is eighth in the event average with 173.5 points on two bulls.
The 33-year-old is battling injuries to his back (herniated disc) and leg (nerve damage) and said that once he was on the back of the bucking chute he had to remind himself, "I can do it."
He added, "You need to believe in yourself," before breaking down into tears while recalling how emotional his family - wife, Andrea, and two kids: Paulo and Camilla - were in the hotel the night before after seeing him in pain.
Alves said he's aware of the injuries his friend is dealing with, but that he has not looked at the average or the standings since arriving in Las Vegas and has no intention of doing so before the end of the event.
"I had to ride," admitted Alves, who didn't want face the prospect of being 1-for-3 at the midway point, "and I'm happy about it, but I'm doing my thing."
Jenkins, J.B. Mauney and Guilherme Marchi all have one qualified ride with two long rounds left to ride their way into the Top 10 of the average.
"You need to believe in yourself," said Valdiron de Oliveira.
After two rounds Luke Snyder is still atop the average, followed closely by Robson Palermo.
Snyder, who scored 90 points on Tremors, has 267 points after going 3-for-3, while Palermo has 264.75 points.
Palermo dislocated his left kneecap, but is considered probable for Saturday night. The sports medicine staff said a definitive decision wouldn't be made until Saturday afternoon.
Last year, he won the Finals event for the second time in his career despite competing with a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder of his riding arm.
Two-time World Champion Chris Shivers, who won the round for the second night in a row with 90.75 points on Shepherd Hills Sod Buster, is third in the average.
Shivers, who announced earlier this year he would retire at the conclusion of the Finals, told tonight's crowd he intends to select Chicken on a Chain with the first pick in the bull draft for Round 4.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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