SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Rubens Barbosa knew there was only one way for him to represent his country at the upcoming PBR Global Cup on Nov. 9-11 in Edmonton, Alberta.
He had to be one of the Top 5 bull riders in the world standings before the cutoff date on Aug. 20.
Barbosa has no qualms about recognizing he is not one of the top-tier riders from the bull riding mecca of Brazil, but the 33-year-old has been capable of connecting on some high-quality rides throughout his respectable five-year PBR Built Ford Tough Series career.
Case and point was this past weekend in Springfield, Missouri.
If not for a 7.93-second buckoff against GOOD RIDE’s Jailhouse Jr. in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, Barbosa may have just sneakily walked away with his second win of the season.
Barbosa used a pair of 86.5-point rides aboard In Like Flynn and Seeing Red to propel himself to a third-place finish at the PFIWestern.com Invitational this weekend.
“I am feeling really good every time I come to the events, but the last two bulls I had this weekend I didn’t finish strong,” Barbosa said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating. “I made two good rides in the first two long go, and I am happy for that.”
This weekend was Barbosa’s best finish since a second-place finish at the Frontier Communications Showdown in Anaheim, California, in February. Barbosa’s two qualified rides also ended his streak of 11 consecutive buckoffs on the BFTS.
Barbosa was mired in the slump as the final days ticked down to the cutoff date for the Global Cup roster announcements last month.
The Iaciara, Brazil, bull rider wound up being the final rider named as one of the first five qualifiers to Team Brazil.
Head coach Robson Palermo will name the final rider to the team at a to-be-determined date later this season. That rider, as well as one alternate, will join Team Brazil’s roster of Kaique Pacheco, Eduardo Aparecido, Fabiano Vieira, Joao Ricardo Vieira, Barbosa and 2017 PBR Brazil champion Jose Vitor Leme.
“The only way I was going to get in was by Top 5,” Barbosa said in August. “I knew I wouldn’t get an invite. I am not one of the best, but I am not one of the worst riders.”
Team Brazil will be one of the oldest teams at the Global Cup with half of its roster being 33 years or older.
After being named to the team, Barbosa vowed to work on becoming a better bull rider in honor of his country before the Global Cup.
Barbosa earned 340 point toward the world standings in Springfield and is now the No. 14 rider in the world.
Barbosa has been rehabbing his injured right ankle, which he broke inside the bucking chutes in April, at Fit-N-Wise Rehabilitation and Performance Center in Decatur, Texas, and getting on practice bulls weekly with his Brazilian contingent.
He wants to become an ever stronger asset for Team Brazil.
“I am going to train a lot harder now,” Barbosa said. “I want to strengthen everything so I can get there prepared.”
Barbosa had been plagued by injuries throughout the majority of his career in the United States, but the 2011 PBR Rookie of the Year has had a relative resurgence in the past three seasons.
He finished 23rd in the world in 2015 and 24th in 2016. He has a chance of posting his first Top-10 finish this season with six BFTS regular-season events remaining until the World Finals (Nov. 1-5).
Barbosa is 15-for-55 (27.27 percent) through 19 BFTS events in 2017. The 5-foot-6-inch bull rider needs three more qualified rides to set a new career-high.
He understood there may not be a better chance than this year to qualify for the team-formatted international bull riding tournament.
“I am very, very excited,” he said. “Before I went to Nashville, I asked God to help me. I prayed for him to give me the opportunity to make the Top 5 and the team. I am assuming I will be riding for a lot longer, but this is a great opportunity that may not come again. I want to ride at this magnitude.”
Team USA head coach Justin McBride was in attendance in Springfield and was impressed with Barbosa’s gutsy decision to select GOOD RIDE’s Jailhouse Jr. with the second pick of the championship-round draft.
It was an unexpected move from the veteran Brazilian bull rider with salt-and-pepper hair, McBride explained.
“Rubens is so crazy, and I love it for him,” McBride said. “Here is the thing, At Global Cup, he will have Robson coaching him. Robson would not have picked that bull for him. That bull should have been left for the last guy going in. That was the hardest bull to get by in the championship round. Now, he had a relatively good day to ride, for him – usually that bull shoots out across the pen and turns back. He is extremely hard to get by.”
McBride continued, “I love Rubens so much. I love his heart, his guts, his try and he went at it with everything he had. He couldn’t see that bull for the last two seconds and he was doing nothing but riding a direction. He had no clue. He couldn’t see anything. I love Rubens for that. His decision-making, not the best, but his heart was in a great place.”
That kind of heart is something that can go a long way at the Global Cup as pride for one’s country will be on full display.
“That is the kind of guy you would want on your team,” McBride said.
Barbosa will qualify for his fourth PBR World Finals in less than two months, but it is his first Global Cup appearance that truly has him excited.
“I know I got in a slump a little bit,” Barbosa concluded. “I am trying my best. I am working out. I want go to go Global Cup and make my country proud.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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