Q&A with Erika de Souza

Dream forward Erika de Souza checks in from Valencia, Spain to answer fans questions. After helping the Dream to the playoffs this past season and earning her first All-Star nod, de Souza headed overseas to compete for Ros Casares, one of the top Euroleague teams. Here's what she had to say in response to your questions.

How did you learn playing the post and the block area of the basket? Who are the influences in your game?
Well, I think everything in basketball is a combination of hard work and the gift you have. I always try to explore both the best I can. I remember when I started playing basketball at 16 years old, there was a wonderful post player who won the World Championship for Brazil in 1994 and played in the WNBA-- Alessandra Oliveira. I always tried to imitate her, do the same moves she used to do, and I think this was one of the keys to my game. I believe having an idol like that is fundamental to everyones success.

What do you miss most about Brazil?
My family, especially my grandmother. Brazilian food is not so difficult to find like it was 10 years ago, and Atlanta has so many great Brazilian restaurants. After so many years playing abroad, I can adjust to almost all cultural differences (but talking about the US is not so difficult because I love the American way of life). My family is always what I miss the most.

With you playing in both the WNBA and in Spain, do you ever get time to go home to Brazil?
Basically I have three weeks in Brazil per year... two weeks when I finish the Spanish Championship and one more when the WNBA is over. Just to have give you an idea of my schedule, this Christmas I will have four days off. But keep in mind I spend two days to travel, so I only have two full and special days with my family and friends.

What is main difference between the competition and type of play in Spain as opposed to the WNBA?
The main difference for me is the quality of the teams. In Euroleague, for example, we have teams that could win the WNBA title, because they are really a union of the best players from certain countries. But at the same time there are teams at not so high a level of play. In the WNBA, there is no easy game and we have a huge challenge every day.

What do you think was the key thing to your transformation into the Beast from Brazil, as Coach Meadors called you, from your former level of play? You were amazing to watch this year and a decidedly more aggressive, formidable player.
Practice is the key to reach any goal and I have been giving my best since I started playing. I can say also that the key in my case is my self confidence. When you believe in yourself, people believe in you too and help you to bring out the best in yourself.

What was it like to be named to the All-Star team this season? Who is your favorite player in the WNBA to play against?
It was amazing. I must confess I have never thought about it. Now is not a dream anymore, it is real and just makes me believe I can always go farther. Lisa Leslie was and will always be my favorite player.

What are your favorite things to do in Atlanta?
I love the lakes we have in ATL. Every free time I can go there is fun. I also like to go shopping, Six Flags, Piedmont Park and discover different restaurants in the city. I love the food in US because we can eat fresh and healthy.

What's your favorite memory from the Dream this past season?
Definitely the game against Connecticut when we reached the playoffs.

How long have you known Izi and how many teams have you played on together?
I have known Izi since I was 17, when we played together in Osasco, Brazil. We just played there together and in Atlanta and on the brazilian selection teams too.

What team do you play on overseas and how are they doing? Are there any other WNBA players on your team?
I play in Ros Casares Valencia, Spain. We have a really great team and so far we have 7 wins and 1 loss. I have Becky Hammon, Belinda Snell, Ana Montanana and Delisha Milton with me here in Valencia.