Some looking to profit from free tickets to Ali services

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Muhammad Ali insisted the tickets for his memorial be free. But some people are looking to turn a profit.

People started arriving outside the KFC Yum! Center late Tuesday in downtown Louisville, ahead of the Wednesday morning ticket distribution. The line stretched around the arena. All 15,000-plus tickets for Ali’s memorial service Friday were claimed within an hour.

Some ticket holders immediately went online offering to sell their tickets.

Others posted online pleas to buy tickets. One wrote that he and his mother were driving in from Chicago for the service for the boxing great and willing to pay $50 for two tickets.

One of the posters offering to sell tickets reached by phone said a friend of his sold tickets to the memorial service. When asked for how much, he hung up.

 

Bench-clearing fray mars Orioles’ 9-1 win over skidding KC

DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer

 

BALTIMORE (AP) — Manny Machado had no intention of taking a 99 mph fastball in the back without retaliating.

So when the inevitable occurred, the Orioles young infielder charged the mound with his fists clenched.

Kansas City right-hander Yordano Ventura hit Machado with a pitch to spark a bench-emptying fray, and Baltimore extended the Royals’ losing streak to a season-high six games with a 9-1 rout Tuesday night.

Mark Trumbo homered and drove in four runs, and the Orioles also got long balls from Ryan Flaherty, Chris Davis and Adam Jones.

But the game’s most striking moment came in the fifth inning, when Ventura (4-4) drilled Machado just under his No. 13 as the two-time All-Star turned away. In the second inning, with Baltimore leading 5-0, the two exchanged words after Ventura twice threw inside pitches.

So before Machado headed to the plate in the fifth, he got a word of warning from manager Buck Showalter.

“I thought he was trying to hit him the at-bat before,” Showalter said. “That’s why I talked to him before he took his last at-bat. I wanted him to be aware of it.”

An instant after the ball hit him, Machado charged the mound. Ventura prepared for the onslaught by slinging aside his cap and glove, but Machado landed a solid punch before the pitcher tackled him.

“I don’t regret anything,” the 23-year-old Machado said. “When somebody’s throwing 99 at you, it’s going to hurt. You can ruin someone’s career. You don’t think in that situation. You just react to it.”

Both dugouts and bullpens emptied before peace was restored. Machado was restrained by teammate Chris Tillman after the initial thrust.

Ventura insisted the errant throw was unintentional and implied that Machado has a reputation as a hot head.

“Everybody knows what kind of player he is,” Ventura said through an interpreter. “One just got away and he came at me, and I have to defend myself at that point.”

Machado and Ventura were ejected with the score 5-1. It is likely both will ultimately receive suspensions.

“I don’t think that should be in order,” Ventura insisted.

Machado said, “You got to deal with the consequences once you cross that line.”

When play resumed, Trumbo greeted reliever Chien-Ming Wang with his major league-leading 20th home run, and Davis followed with a solo shot.

Ubaldo Jimenez (3-6) gave up one run and nine hits over five-plus innings to end a three-game skid.

Baltimore has won six of seven. This was the only victory in that stretch in which the Orioles never trailed.

The Royals stranded 13 and went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position. It’s been a difficult losing streak for the defending World Series champions, and Ventura made that apparent with his actions in the fifth inning.

“There’s a little frustration when things like this happen,” manager Ned Yost acknowledged.

Baltimore opened the bottom of the first with four straight hits and took a 4-0 lead with only one out. The big blow was a two-run double by Trumbo, who scored on a single by Jonathan Schoop. The damage would have been worse if leaping center fielder Lorenzo Cain didn’t reach far over the 7-foot wall to rob Pedro Alvarez of a potential two-run homer.

Flaherty led off the second with his first home run of the season, a drive that traveled an estimated 446 feet before landing on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field wall.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: 3B Cheslor Cuthbert was in the starting lineup after bruising his elbow Monday night on an errant throw by Schoop. … Monday night starter Danny Duffy, drilled in the left calf by a line drive, said Tuesday: “It was a little tender but nothing to write home about.” … OF Alex Gordon (wrist) has started a throwing regimen but there is no timetable for his return.

Orioles: RHP Yovani Gallardo (shoulder tendinitis) allowed three runs and four hits over five innings in his second and perhaps final rehabilitation start. Showalter said Gallardo has lost 11 pounds since going on the DL on April 23.

UP NEXT

Royals: Edinson Volquez (5-5, 4.03 ERA) will attempt to lift Kansas City out of its season-long funk in the series finale Wednesday night.

Orioles: Unbeaten in nine starts since April 14, Tillman (7-1, 3.33 ERA) attempts to complete the three-game sweep for Baltimore.

 

Penguins move to brink of title with 3-1 win vs. Sharks

JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins were confident that three straight games without a point for Evgeni Malkin and a rare off night by Matt Murray were an aberration more than a concern.

Bounce-back performances from those two key players moved the Penguins to the brink of winning the Stanley Cup.

Malkin scored one goal and assisted on another, Murray made 23 saves and the Penguins took a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final by beating the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Monday night.

“He’s a world class player,” Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said of Malkin. “He’s been going through a rough stretch. He’s been really contributing in other ways than on the scoresheet. But obviously you saw how good he is today. When he turns it on, obviously what he can do is huge for our team.”

Malkin helped set up Cole’s goal to open the scoring, then added one of his own on the power play to give Murray all the support needed.

Eric Fehr sealed it with a late goal after San Jose made a strong push in the third.

Two nights after allowing a soft game-tying goal to Joel Ward, Murray was steady throughout to put the Penguins one win from skating off with their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history. They can do it at home in Game 5 on Thursday night.

“Just keep doing what we’re doing. Obviously we know what’s at stake,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We don’t have to change a thing, just keep playing the same way we’re playing and the results will take care of themselves.”

The Sharks were unable to build on their first win in the final, allowing the first goal for the fourth straight game and going more than nine minutes without a shot on goal during one stretch of the second period.

San Jose has yet to lead at any point in the series other than after scoring in overtime in Game 3.

“We’ve been chasing the game the whole series by not scoring first,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “That takes you out of your four-line rhythm. It affects all parts of your game. … That’s the biggest thing we have to fix. We have to find a way to get on the board earlier in the game instead of chasing it all night.”

Melker Karlsson scored the lone goal and Martin Jones made 17 saves for San Jose.

The Sharks will now need to win in Pittsburgh to give their loyal fans who waited 25 years to watch the Stanley Cup Final in the Bay Area another home game. No team has come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the final since Toronto did it in 1942 against Detroit.

“It’s disappointing to lose in front of the home crowd,” Sharks center Logan Couture said. “You see them leaving and they’re not happy. You feel like you let them down. We hope we’re back here, but we have to worry about the next one first.”

The story for the Penguins after their 3-2 overtime loss in Game 3 was how to get Malkin going after a slow start to the series. And how would the rookie Murray respond after giving up the soft goal to Ward and the winner to Joonas Donskoi.

Both passed with flying colors.

Malkin was energized from the start, helping setting up the first goal when he caught San Jose on a bad line change and sent Phil Kessel in on a rush. Jones stopped Kessel’s shot, but Cole knocked in the rebound for his first career playoff goal.

Malkin then got his goal when he tapped in a perfect from Kessel for Pittsburgh’s first power-play goal of the series.

“I didn’t change my game a lot,” Malkin said. “I wanted a little bit more to play with the puck.”

Murray wasn’t tested often early and went nearly the first half of the second period without facing a single shot.

“I’m just trying to have fun through all of this,” Murray said. “It’s been an absolute blast so far. I’m going to look to keep that same mindset going forward.”

The Sharks made a strong late push, and he robbed Couture, left all alone in the slot after a turnover by Kris Letang, late in the second.

Murray then stopped Patrick Marleau on a breakaway and saved a one-timer by Joe Pavelski early in the third before allowing his first goal. Karlsson beat him on a rebound of Brenden Dillon’s point shot with 11:53 to play.

But Murray didn’t flinch and came up big again against Pavelski, keeping the NHL’s leading goal scorer this postseason without a point in the final.

“He’s just been great,” Crosby said. “You see tonight. They press late. They get one, they keep coming. He gets a big stop on a breakaway, a lot of scrambles there late. He’s just showing a lot of poise now, a lot of maturity.”

Fehr provided the insurance when he beat Jones on an odd-man rush with 2:02 to play.

NOTES: The Penguins have not played from behind for a span of 435:46 since a Game 4 loss to Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final. Pittsburgh’s only two losses since came in overtime games they didn’t trail until an OT goal. … Sharks F Tomas Hertl missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

An extra rest day in NBA Finals seems timely for Cavaliers

TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) — Under the long-used former NBA Finals format, Game 3 of this Golden State-Cleveland matchup would have been played Tuesday night.

Not this year, thanks to an extra rest day.

And the Cavaliers are probably celebrating that.

The Eastern Conference champions need as much time as they can get to try to figure out a way back into these finals. They’ve used LeBron James as a ballhandler and as a center, they’ve played at different speeds, they’ve tried different lineups.

There have been moments of success — just not enough to make this a series.

As such, the Warriors are two wins from back-to-back championships. Golden State will try to take a 3-0 lead in this finals rematch when the series resumes in Cleveland on Wednesday night.

“The next couple days, I won’t be reflecting,” James said. “I’ll figure out ways I can be better.”

That certainly sounds good, given that James at his best is probably still better than any player in the world. Problem is, James is already averaging close to a triple-double in this series — so he’s already plenty productive. And the Cavaliers are down 0-2 despite keeping Warriors’ sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in check so far.

Regardless, Golden State won Game 1 by 15, then rolled in Game 2 on Sunday night by 33. That plus-48 combined margin adds up to the most one-sided first two games of the finals ever.

“They’re just a better team right now,” acknowledged Cleveland guard J.R. Smith, who managed a combined eight points in Games 1 and 2.

Adding to the tough spot the Cavaliers are in is the status of forward Kevin Love, who is now in the NBA’s concussion protocol after taking himself out of Game 2. Love caught an elbow from Harrison Barnes in the back of the head during the first half, and left in the third quarter when symptoms of a concussion started to present themselves.

If Love can’t go, the Cavaliers might have no choice but to reinvent themselves with their realistic title hopes hanging by a thread. Going to a bigger lineup — probably meaning giving all-but-forgotten center Timofey Mozgov some minutes that matter — could be the only real card Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has left to play.

“They’ll probably play with a little more energy,” Thompson said. “That’s natural when you go home. Probably with a sense of desperation. They might go big. You never know. But we’ll be prepared.”

James has faced 0-2 deficits four times before, all during his first stint in Cleveland. He and the Cavs lost in seven games to Detroit in the 2006 second round, rallied to beat Detroit in six games in the 2007 East finals, got swept by San Antonio in that season’s NBA Finals, and lost in seven games to Boston in the 2008 second round.

He knows the numbers, 28 of the 31 previous teams to lose the first two games of the finals did not recover. He didn’t need anyone to remind him that only one team in the last 39 years — the 2006 Miami Heat, with his close friend Dwyane Wade taking over — successfully rallied from an 0-2 hole in the title series.

“What we’ve done these last two games doesn’t put a damper or a cloud over how we got to this point,” James said. “We’re still here and we have a chance to turn this series around if we come in and do what we need to do both offensively and defensively.”

This was supposed to be their chance, after last season’s matchup with the Warriors saw Love sidelined for the entire series with a shoulder injury and Kyrie Irving gone after Game 1 with knee issues.

Love might be gone again. And Irving seems befuddled by the Warriors’ defense, shooting 33 percent with a mere five assists in the first two games.

“They did what they were supposed to do at home,” Irving said. “They came out and took care of home court, and now they have to come to Cleveland.”

That’s almost an obligatory sentiment, though. The Cavs are supposed to say that all they need to do is take care of their home floor now to get back in this series. And the Warriors in turn also said all the things they were supposed to say as well, like knowing there’s a long way to go before they can think about a second consecutive title.

Fact is, they’ve won seven straight over the Cavaliers now, often in dominant fashion. And that title is looming.

“There’s no point in celebrating or jumping up and down and saying ‘Look at us,'” Curry said. “We’re two games away from winning a championship. We still have to go out and get the job done. It’s a trap to think that we’ve figured things out and that we have the perfect formula to beat Cleveland.”

Shaq: Cavs need better Irving, ‘punked’ Love in NBA Finals

BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Shaquille O’Neal played on the last team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals, so he knows what it takes.

For Cleveland, he thinks it starts with better play from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who he said is being “punked” by Draymond Green.

“Because remember last year, the story line was, ‘OK, Golden State, you won a championship, but that’s because Kyrie and Kevin Love weren’t playing.’ Now they’re playing, now you’ve got to play like you know how to play,” O’Neal said Monday night.

Irving averaged 18 points but shot just 33 percent in the first two games. Love was just 9 for 24 from the floor in Oakland, California, and his status for Game 3 in Cleveland on Wednesday is unknown because of a concussion.

He’s been no match for Green, who scored 28 points in the Warriors’ 110-77 Game 2 stomping.

“Kevin Love’s getting punked by Draymond, he really is,” O’Neal said during an interview with The Associated Press. “I hate to be the one to say it, but he has to step up. You can’t let a guy do the muscle thing in your face and you don’t respond.”

O’Neal said his Miami Heat never lost their belief in the 2006 finals, when they dropped the first two games in Dallas and were in deep trouble in Game 3 before storming back to win four straight. “We didn’t feel like we were down and we knew we were better than that team,” he said. “Our whole message was just one game at a time because they’re up, the pressure’s not on them. Once you start to squeeze, the pressure starts to be on them.”

He thinks the Cavaliers can still get back into this series, though he’s not sure if they can join the three teams to come back from 2-0 down in the Finals .

O’Neal, who provided analysis for NBA TV in Games 1 and 2, was in New York to take part in an event for American Express card members with his former Los Angeles Lakers coach, Phil Jackson.

Jackson’s Chicago Bulls overcame a 2-0 deficit against the Knicks in the 1993 Eastern Conference finals en route to one of his NBA-record 11 championships as a coach. He recalls that series swinging when Michael Jordan became enraged after press accounts of his trip to Atlantic City following practice between Games 1 and 2 and “played like a man possessed.”

“Sometimes it takes something like that,” Jackson said, adding that LeBron James might need to find something that gets him to play with equal passion.

The Warriors’ 73 victories broke the Bulls’ 1996 record, but O’Neal said his 2001 Lakers would have beaten them. That team set an NBA record by going 15-1 in the postseason for the second of three straight championships under Jackson, back when O’Neal could be an even bigger physical force before rules changes loosened the game for free-flowing offenses like Golden State’s to thrive.

“If you’re using those rules, we’d win. Now we use these rules these days, we’d still win, because you wouldn’t be allowed to touch me, you wouldn’t be allowed to touch Kobe,” O’Neal said. “So yeah, that’s how I always look at it.”

Ali scripted funeral plans in exacting detail in ‘The Book’

BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press
CLAIRE GALOFARO, Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Muhammad Ali and his innermost circle started a document years ago that grew so thick they began calling it “The Book.”

Its contents will soon be revealed.

In the pages, the boxing great planned in exacting detail how he wished to say goodbye to the world.

“The message that we’ll be sending out is not our message — this was really designed by The Champ himself,” said Timothy Gianotti, an Islamic studies scholar who for years helped to plan the services.

“The love and the reverence and the inclusivity that we’re going to experience over the coming days is really a reflection of his message to the people of planet Earth.”

The 74-year-old three-time heavyweight champion wanted the memorial service in an arena. He wanted multiple religions to have a voice while honoring the traditions of his Muslim faith. And he wanted ordinary fans to attend, not just VIPs.

He was never downcast when talking about his death, said Bob Gunnell, an Ali family spokesman. He recalled Ali’s own words during meetings planning the funeral: “It’s OK. We’re here to do the job the way I want it. It’s fine.”

The final revisions were made days before Ali died Friday at an Arizona hospital, his family by his side.

For years, the plan was to have Ali’s body lie in repose at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Gunnell said. That tribute was dropped at the last minute because his wife, Lonnie, worried it would cause the center to be shut down and knew people would want to gather there in grief.

In its place, a miles-long procession was added that will carry Ali’s body across his beloved hometown. It will drive past the museum built in his honor, along the boulevard named after him and through the neighborhood where he grew up, raced bicycles and shadowboxed down the streets.

In a city accustomed to capturing the world’s attention for just two minutes during the Kentucky Derby each year, Ali’s memorial service Friday looms as one of the most historic events in Louisville’s history. Former presidents, heads of nations from around the globe, movie stars and sports greats will descend upon the city to pay final respects to The Louisville Lip.

“It’s been a really bittersweet time for our city,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “We’ve all been dreading the passing of The Champ, but at the same time we knew ultimately it would come. It was selfish for us to think that we could hold on to him forever. Our job now, as a city, is to send him off with the class and dignity and respect that he deserves.”

Former President Bill Clinton, a longtime friend, will deliver the eulogy at the funeral at the KFC Yum! Center, where the 15,000 seats are likely to be filled.

Others speakers will include representatives of multiple faiths, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Mormonism.

Some are lifelong friends. Others Ali simply admired.

Rabbi Michael Lerner was in his office at his home in Berkley, California, on Sunday morning when, out of the blue, Ronald DiNicola, president of Muhammad Ali Enterprises, called and invited the rabbi to speak at the funeral.

He and Ali met in the 1960s as two vocal opponents to the Vietnam War. They did not see each other again. But DiNicola told Lerner that for the rest of the boxer’s life, Ali admired the rabbi’s work as editor of the Jewish progressive magazine Tikkun and author of numerous books.

“I didn’t know that he continued to follow my work; I certainly followed him, what he was doing and the courage he did it with,” Lerner said. “I am extremely honored and extremely humbled.”

He and the other faith leaders will be followed by Ali’s wife, daughter Maryum Ali, actor Billy Crystal and sportscaster Bryant Gumbel. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan had been scheduled to speak, but lost their speaking spots because two other speakers will be added later, Gunnell said.

“It’s not about who they are, it’s about the fact that we just don’t have room on the program for them,” Gunnell said, adding that their representatives were “gracious and understood” when informed.

Actor Will Smith, who portrayed Muhammad Ali in the movie “Ali,” and former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis are among eight pallbearers for Ali’s memorial service this week in Louisville.

Also serving are Jerry Ellis, brother of Jimmy Ellis, who was Ali’s former sparring partner and former world heavyweight champion; and several of Ali’s relatives and a friend from Louisville.

Most downtown hotel rooms were already booked by Monday afternoon, and those in the rest of the city were selling out fast, said Stacey Yates of the city’s tourism bureau.

At the city’s iconic Brown Hotel, the Muhammad Ali Suite, an opulent gold-and-black room dedicated in 2001 by The Greatest himself, was already booked. The hotel declined to say who would be staying there.

All over town, Louisville residents have been finding ways to pay tribute to their city’s favorite son. The Muhammad Ali Center stopped charging people for admission. A tour company began impromptu tours of Ali’s path through the city. A downtown bridge announced it would be lit the rest of the week in red and gold: red for Ali’s gloves and gold for his medal.

The day before his star-studded funeral, members of Ali’s Islamic faith will get their chance to say a traditional goodbye. A Jenazah, a traditional Muslim funeral, will be held at Freedom Hall at noon Thursday, Gunnell said. It will be open to all.

They chose the venue because it seats 18,000 and holds historical significance for the hometown hero. Ali fought, and won, his first professional fight there in 1960.

Gianotti, the Islamic studies scholar, said the Muslim funeral was “critically important for the global Muslim community to say goodbye to their beloved champ.”

The inner circle that helped the Alis with funeral preparations included his attorney and a business associate, Gunnell said. The group presented “The Book” — about 2 inches thick with funeral details — to Ali in 2010, the family spokesman said.

“Muhammad, over the course of about a week, went through the entire plan and signed it and certified it and approved it,” Gunnell said.

Ali’s burial will be in Cave Hill Cemetery, the final resting place for many of the city’s most prominent residents. The luminaries include Colonel Harlan Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, whose granite memorial features a bust of the goateed entrepreneur.

Ali’s gravesite will far more subdued, in contrast to his oversized personality and life. A modest marker, in accord with Muslim tradition, is planned, said his attorney, Ron Tweel. He would not say what words will be inscribed on the marker.

UFC lifts indefinite ban on reporter after 2 days

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The UFC has rescinded its indefinite ban on a reporter who was thrown out of its UFC 199 show last weekend.

Less than two days after mmafighting.com’s Ariel Helwani was told he would never be allowed to cover future UFC events, the promotion announced Monday night that it won’t deny media credentials to his company.

The UFC was hit with heavy online criticism from other journalists and MMA fans for its actions against Helwani, one of the most prominent reporters covering mixed martial arts. Photographer Esther Lin and video director Casey Leydon also were ejected from the Forum with Helwani.

The UFC remains upset about Helwani’s report that heavyweight Brock Lesnar was nearing a deal to return at UFC 200, which revealed the plan before the UFC could announce it.

When Rio fails, sister city shows sewage cleanup possible

JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press

NITEROI, Brazil (AP) — With thousands of liters of raw human sewage pouring into the ocean every second from Rio de Janeiro, August’s Olympic Games have thrust into the global spotlight the city’s spectacular failure to clean up its waterways and world famous beaches. But just across the Guanabara Bay from Rio, the sister city of Niteroi is showing that a real cleanup is possible.

In Niteroi, 95 percent of sewage is treated and authorities say they are on track for 100 percent within a year, even though Rio’s failure to do its part means that sludge still flows in from across the bay. Rio has not only broken promises made to fix its sewage problem in time for the upcoming Summer Games, but the state has been downplaying expectations, even suggesting it might be 2035 before a full cleanup happens.

Niteroi’s success underscores key factors that stand in stark contrast to Rio: privatization of sewage management, major investment in infrastructure and a high level of accountability and collaboration between the city government and the utility to define targets and meet them.

In Rio’s Olympic bid document seven years ago, authorities pledged that an extensive cleanup — which included collecting and treating 80 percent of the city’s sewage — would be one of the games’ enduring legacies, but it simply never happened: An ongoing study commissioned by The Associated Press has shown that rowers, sailors and marathon swimmers will be exposed to waters so filthy they’re roughly equivalent to raw sewage.

Why did Niteroi succeed while Rio failed? For starters, it doesn’t help that Jorge Briard, president of the Rio state-owned utility known by its Portuguese acronym as CEDAE, says he isn’t sure where those Olympic bid targets came from.

“‘Why didn’t you achieve the 80 percent that was stated?’ That’s the recurring question,” Briard said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I always say, ‘I don’t know where the 80 percent came from. Certainly not from CEDAE. Here, no one mentioned 80 percent.’ Mentioning percentages is something very dangerous.”

The situation in Niteroi in 1997, when a private sanitation company won a tender to manage the city’s sewage system, was even worse than Rio’s is now. About a third of the population didn’t have running water and more than two-thirds of sewage went untreated.

Over the past 15 years, the city has rolled out new treatment plants and hooked up hundreds of thousands of residents, whose waste flowed untreated into the area streams and rivers that run into the bay.

“City Hall got to the point where it had no other alternative but to look to the private sector for someone who could solve the big problems,” said Carlos Henrique da Cruz Lima, planning director at Aguas do Brasil, the sanitation company.

It was a bold move. Similar situations existed — and continue to exist — throughout Brazil, and public utilities still outnumber private ones here by around nine to one. Until a decade ago, the legislative framework for private utilities was murky, leading to a legal battle over whether Aguas do Brasil had the right to operate in Niteroi. The case dragged on for two years before Brazil’s highest court ruled in the company’s favor.

The company has invested 500 million Brazilian reais (US$ 141 million) to expand the city’s then-sole sewage treatment plant and build another eight units — as well as, crucially, to lay the pipes to transport the sewage.

With an estimated 95 percent of residents now on the sewerage grid, Niteroi ranks No. 5 nationally in terms of sewage treatment, according to basic sanitation watchdog Trata Brasil. The plan is to reach universal coverage, bringing the remaining 30,000 to 35,000 residents onto the grid within the coming year, Lima said.

By comparison, Rio treats about half its sewage — despite multibillion dollar cleanup efforts and broken promises stretching back more than two decades.

Sanitation experts say Niteroi has the advantage of being relatively small. The population is around 500,000 people, compared with Rio’s 6 million.

That dynamic makes oversight and enforcement easer, cutting down on corruption in building contracts and management, long a scourge in Latin America’s most populous nation.

Amid sharp criticism of the failed cleanup efforts in Rio and the ongoing AP investigation, local officials have been dialing down expectations.

Last year, Rio Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao acknowledged “errors” had been made in the bay cleanup. At an event at the governor’s palace days after the July 30 publication of the AP investigation, an official with the latest cleanup task force pushed the target date back to 2035. Pezao is currently on medical leave and the governor’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

An independent study commissioned by The Associated Press over the last year has revealed alarmingly high levels of viruses and sometimes bacteria from human sewage in the bay as well as the city’s other Olympic waterways. A risk assessment based on the AP data found those who ingest three teaspoons of water have a 99 percent chance of being infected by a virus, raising alarm among some elite athletes, although whether they actually fall sick depends on many factors. Several athletes fell ill while training last year.

The consequences of sewage exposure are more serious for the broad swath of Brazil’s population for which regular exposure to untreated waste is an inevitable fact of life. Public health experts say children exposed to sewage fall ill more often, are less likely to attend school regularly and fully develop intellectually, and ultimately end up getting significantly lower-paying jobs than those from similar socio-economic backgrounds who grow up with basic sanitation.

Niteroi’s vice-mayor, Axel Grael, said the private company’s accountability has been a key factor in the sewage treatment, with specific quality control standards spelled out in the contract.

“Public utilities here have shown themselves to be inefficient, unable to make the needed investments at the speed the population demands,” said Grael, an accomplished sailor whose two brothers are both Olympic medalists in the sport.

Briard, Rio’s utility president, rejected arguments that his company had failed. He said ongoing infrastructure investment had boosted treatment of the city’s sewage from a lackluster 11 percent in 2007 to 51 percent currently.

“It’s a big advance,” he said.

Briard said CEDAE’s goal was to get to 90 percent treatment, but declined to provide a timeline.

“Water, I sometimes joke, we could even put on the moon,” he said. “But sewage is complex engineering.”

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes has been less forgiving. While he points to ongoing improvements — last week he inaugurated a new sewage treatment plant — he says the city missed a great opportunity to modernize.

“It is a shame. And not just for the city of Rio de Janeiro,” Paes said last week. “It’s a national shame.”

Briard downplayed the accomplishments in Niteroi, saying Aguas do Brazil piggybacked on work already down by CEDAE, such as development of a subterranean network of pipes. He also said that for nearly a decade the company didn’t pay CEDAE for the water it provided, allowing it to make investments that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

“If you don’t pay for your raw material, or if you pay very little for it, it’s clear your chance of being a success is very high,” Briard said.

Global experts say that privatization is not always a solution. While historically public water utilities have tended to be hampered by inertia and slow to adopt new technologies, today some of the best sewage facilities in the world are public, said Kartik Chandran, a professor of engineering at Columbia University.

He pointed to those serving New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Seattle as leaders in the U.S., adding that stringent regulations and strict enforcement are the basis of success.

“If you look at regulations in developing countries, they are mostly the same as in the U.S. and Europe — and perhaps even adapted from that legislation — but there’s hardly any enforcement,” Chandran said.

In April, police investigators conducted a sting at several CEDAE waste treatment plants, collecting samples aimed at determining whether the facilities are just pumping raw sewage through and dumping it. Depending on the results, both CEDAE and its top executives could be handed pollution and larceny charges, the lead investigator said at the time.

Mario Moscatelli, a biologist who for decades has been the most visible face of the fight to clean up Rio’s waterways, doesn’t believe the authorities ever intended to make good on their Olympic promises.

Not providing basic sanitation has become big business, he said, referring to the allegation the company charges for services it doesn’t perform. “It’s a big official scam.”

And it’s affecting more than Rio.

While Niteroi has cleaned up its own mess, sludge is still flowing across the bay from its sister city. The two are separated by about 5 miles (8 kilometers) of bay water.

“It’s been getting cleaner,” said Renan Taboada, a 19-year-old from Niteroi, as he played soccer on the city’s showcase Icarai Beach, “but it’s definitely not as clean as we would like.”

Rain postpones NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono to Monday

By DAN GELSTON

AP Sports Writer

LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Jeff Gordon found only greatness, not boredom, in Martin Truex Jr’s record run at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In the broadcast booth Sunday, the retired four-time NASCAR champ said Truex’s dominant feat last weekend should be rewarded, not decried as bad for the sport because of the way he cruised against no true competition in the Coca-Cola 600.

Truex’s record romp was one of the stock car ages — he led 392 of 400 laps, set a Sprint Cup record for miles led in a race with 588, and his 160.655 mph run in the No. 78 Toyota made the race the fastest one in Coke history.

Let the critics moan.

Truex was too busy celebrating his career renaissance.

“Definitely a great week,” Truex said. “One of the best I’ve ever had.”

Even better for Truex, he was headed to Pocono Raceway, site of his lone victory in 2015. Truex dominated off late restarts down the stretch to snap a 69-race winless streak last June and earn a berth in the Chase.

“I think typically past experience at a track is definitely a good thing,” Truex said.

Truex and his Furniture Row Racing team had to wait one more day to aim for a repeat. Rain washed out the NASCAR Sprint Cup race and it will now run at noon Monday. Brad Keselowski is on the pole and Truex starts 17th in Pocono’s first Monday race since 2009. The 2012 rain-shortened race at Pocono was marred by lightning strikes that killed one fan and injured nine others.

This was the first postponed race of the season and ninth since 2011.

Truex’s win in Charlotte earned him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship — a spot he parlayed last year into the four-driver field in the finale to race for the title.

Truex has proved this season that his success was no fluke. His 809 laps led through the first 13 races are 242 more than his total all of last season and his two top-five finishes and six top-10s aren’t far removed from his 2015 pace.

One a middling driver for two other teams, Truex has watched his career blossom at single-car operation Furniture Row.

“I feel like I’m a better driver than I’ve ever been,” he said. “But you (need) a great team and all the things around you it takes to be competitive at this level against these drivers against these teams. You’ve got to have it all.”

The June 2015 Pocono race was replayed on Fox Sports 1 — spoiler alert, Truex won — on Sunday and showed him breaking through for his first Sprint Cup victory in two years.

The win was particularly emotional for Truex. He slapped the top of the No. 78, thrust his right fist toward the sky and bounded straight into his girlfriend’s arms. He hugged and kissed Sherry Pollex and lifted her into the air, a needed celebration for the couple as she fought ovarian cancer.

Pollex, diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in August 2014, is in remission.

“I went through a lot,” Truex said. “We went through a lot.”

Truex is a hunting buddy with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his easygoing personality has made him a popular driver in the garage. Rival drivers, owners, crew members popped by for high-fives and congratulatory greetings on pit road last year.

After Charlotte, it was even more texts and tweets to read after claiming his little slice of history.

”I still just can’t believe how many laps we led, and just the miles,” he said. “Just thinking about all the greats that have come and gone through NASCAR — all of our heroes, my heroes — to think that I’ve led more laps in a race than anyone ever has or more miles is just a really cool thing for me.”

With stars neutralized, unsung players step up in Cup final

By JOSH DUBOW

AP Sports Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — This is a Stanley Cup Final filled with stars who have won the Hart Trophy, Olympic gold medals and numerous other awards.

With players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, the final features some of the biggest names in hockey.

The one place where those players haven’t showed up so far is on the goal-scoring sheet. In a series that has featured three straight one-goal games all decided either in the final three minutes of regulation or overtime, some of the lesser-known players have delivered the goals.

“You look through these playoffs and third-line, fourth-line guys have stepped up for both teams and scored big goals,” Sharks center Logan Couture said Sunday. “It’s not necessarily that the big guns have scored the huge goals for both teams. You need that when you get to this point.”

Sharks rookie Joonas Donskoi was the latest to get on that list when he scored the overtime winner in San Jose’s 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Saturday night that cut Pittsburgh’s series lead to 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night in San Jose.

Donskoi matched the overtime goal scored just one game earlier by Penguins rookie Conor Sheary. Before that, it had been 30 years since a rookie had scored in overtime in the final when Montreal’s Brian Skrudland did it in Game 2 against Calgary.

But Donskoi and Sheary are far from the only unusual suspects to score in the first three games. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun has two goals in the past two games, matching his total from the previous 40 contests.

“I’m happy I can finally chip in offensively,” Braun said. “A lot of other guys have done a lot of heavy lifting to get us here. I’m just trying to do my part.”

Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who has 15 goals in 334 career regular season games, scored one of the Penguins’ goals in Game 3 and set up the other that was deflected in by Patric Hornqvist.

Nick Bonino got the Game 1 winner for Pittsburgh when the other goals were scored by rookies Sheary and Bryan Rust.

And after three games, players like Crosby, Malkin, Thornton, Pavelski, Kris Letang, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are all still looking for their first goals.

“You just try to worry about yourself and make sure you’re doing your job and as a team you’re doing the things necessary to give yourself a chance to win games,” Crosby said. “It’s tight. Like I keep seeing year after year, there’s a small margin of error. Just make sure you’re competing and give yourself a chance to create and ultimately produce.”

It hasn’t been like those players haven’t performed well. Crosby was dominant the first two games and set up a pair of goals that helped Pittsburgh take the 2-0 lead. But he got much less generated on the road when the Sharks were able to match top defensive pair Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun against him consistently. Even a few shifts with Malkin couldn’t generate many chances for Pittsburgh.

“We’re playing against good defensemen,” Malkin said. “They play so close and so tight, it’s tough to shoot sometimes.”

Thornton had a few good chances late, especially after Couture joined him and Pavelski on San Jose’s top line. But Pavelski, who leads the NHL with 13 playoff goals, has been mostly silent with no points and only four shots on goal through three games.

“It’s tough this time of year,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “Every round, he’s getting a lot of attention, just like Brent Burns is getting a lot of attention, just like Jumbo is getting a lot of attention. That’s not an easy role to play. I have no doubt he’s going to break through here. He has all year for us. It’s just a matter of time.”

One of the factors limiting Pavelski’s effectiveness has been Pittsburgh’s propensity to block shots. The Penguins blocked 38 shots alone in Game 3, including 12 from Burns. With fewer point shots getting to the net, Pavelski has been unable to utilize his elite hand-eye coordination to deflect pucks like he was so successfully the first three rounds.

“We’re creating some chances,” Pavelski said. “It’s just that end result hasn’t been there. You just stay with it, keep trying to have the puck and play with it and get open. Try to get a few more.”

NOTES: Sharks F Tomas Hertl remains day to day with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Letang and Olli Maatta were given maintenance days and did not practice.