PUEBLO, Colo. – A week after being left off the final Team Brazil Global Cup roster as head coach Robson Palermo went with World Champions Guilherme Marchi and Silvano Alves as his final two roster selections, Dener Barbosa reminded everyone there is a young, rising Brazilian bull riding star finishing the season strong.
Barbosa used pinpoint precision and consistency to finally earn his first career victory this past weekend at the Frontier Communications Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, after posting four Top-5 finishes earlier this season.
How Barbosa went about winning his first event is exactly how he has handled the 2017 season.
Barbosa hasn’t relied upon home-run type ride scores or high-round placements. Instead, he has been an 8-second V6 engine pumping out ride after ride.
In Raleigh, Barbosa used two average bull rides aboard JJ’s Dream (82.25 points) and Deep End (81.75 points) to give himself a shot at the victory in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round aboard Black Rose.
“He didn’t have the rankest bulls today, but he did what he had to do,” 2009 Ring of Honor inductee and CBS Sports Network commentator J.W. Hart said. “He stayed on. Consistency. He didn’t look over flashy, but he got the job done and that is what works.”
Barbosa’s winning ride on Black Rose was his 31st at the Built Ford Tough Series level this year. The 2016 PBR Brazil champion has the chance to break Kaique Pacheco’s PBR rookie ride record (37) with one regular-season event remaining and the 2017 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Barbosa, who earned 450 world points to take over the Rookie of the Year lead, would need to finish the season 7-for-9 in order to break Pacheco’s 2016 rookie record.
The 2016 PBR Brazil champion is 10-for-19 since finishing in second-place at the PFIWestern.com Invitational in Springfield, Missouri, last month.
Breaking Pacheco’s record will be a tall task, and probably unlikely, especially considering the World Finals will present Barbosa with five, and potentially six, of the rankest bulls he has faced all season long.
Barbosa arrived in the U.S. last year after a 90-percent riding percentage at 2016 PBR Brazil events and he feels he is riding better than he ever has.
It was a year ago that Barbosa made his debut at the 2016 PBR World Finals. In Round 2, Barbosa produced an eye-opening 87.5-point ride on Stone Sober for the first ride of his career.
“Oh, those bulls are a little different than the bulls in Brazil. I had to learn the bulls,” Barbosa said. “I know them more now. I try to pick the best bulls I know fit me better. I have grown a little bit with the bulls and the pressure. This has helped me a lot.”
Barbosa wasn’t planning on picking Black Rose originally.
With his confidence at an all-time high, Barbosa had hoped to get a shot at 2016 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser before Joao Ricardo Vieira selected the D&H Cattle Company superstar with the first pick of the draft.
“(Bruiser) was the bull I wanted, but I rode Black Rose before, so that is why I picked him,” Barbosa said. “Coming out of the left, I knew he would fit me better. That is why I picked him.”
Barbosa leads 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel by a slim 47.5 points heading into this weekend’s Cooper Tires Take The Money and Ride, presented by Wrangler, in San Jose, California.
If Barbosa can claim the Rookie of the Year title, he would become the sixth Brazilian rider to win top rookie accolades in PBR history.
That notion hasn’t passed him by as he prepares his rope next to fellow Rookie of the Year winners like Pacheco (2015), Joao Ricardo Vieira (2013), Emilio Resende (2012), Rubens Barbosa (2011) and Silvano Alves (2010).
Alves was the first non-American to win Rookie of the Year in PBR history.
“For me, it is very important to be here and my dream is to be Rookie of the Year,” Barbosa said. “It is very special to ride with the strong Brazilians. That is inspiring me. Every week I am getting better and better and stronger.
“I look forward to finishing strong being the Rookie of the Year.”
Barbosa is also up to ninth in the world standings, putting him ahead of more than half of the riders named to the Team Brazil Global Cup roster.
RELATED: Final Global Cup Rosters announced
Granted, four of the riders were named to Team Brazil based on world standings back in August, and one spot was reserved for the 2017 PBR Brazil champion Jose Vitor Leme, but could the argument be made that Barbosa should have been on the team over 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi or three-time World Champion Silvano Alves?
Barbosa is second in the PBR with a 46.27-percent riding average and his 31 qualified rides ranks fifth in the PBR. Only Team Brazil riders Eduardo Aparecido (41), Pacheco (37) and Joao Ricardo Vieira (32) have more rides than Barbosa.
Some sources inside the Brazilian locker room believed one of the final two roster spots – that were submitted last week prior to Barbosa’s victory – would go to the highest-ranked rider in the standings that was not named to Team Brazil in August.
However, that ended up not being the case as coach Palermo opted to stick with the two former World Champions.
"Yeah, it was kind of hard," Palermo said. "He rode at the event this week, but Silvano is a three-time World Champ. I know he has been in a little bit of a slump, but he is going to be good pretty soon. He is going to be an alternate guy. It is hard to pick one of the guys, when all the guys are riding really good to be the alternate. Dener would have been good to. Dener is riding good now, but I am happy with my guys."
Hart said he understood the dilemma Palermo faced. Hart coached in the former World Cups and had to make tough choices as coach.
“It is tough. It is really tough,” Hart said before sighing. “I don’t think I would put Silvano on there. I think I would put Denver over Silvano.
Barbosa admitted after the event he was disappointed by Palermo’s decision, but he understood.
“I really wanted to be on the Global Cup team,” Barbosa said. “I thought we were going to pick by the ranking, but the coach had his decision and he picked another guy. I know my potential to be on the Global Cup. I am not frustrated, but I think I deserve to be on the Global Cup.
“I ride so good since after break. The coach made his decision and I can’t do anything. But I am happy with my performance. I know I am growing every week and growing event by event and every bull I get on. I am happy with what I do.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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