LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- There was no transcendent Rio moment this time, no dramatic shift in momentum to swing the Olympic bid race. The campaign for the 2018 Winter Games goes into the final stretch much as it was before -- with the South Korean bid from Pyeongchang in the front and Munich pushing hard to overtake the favourites. Bid leaders from Pyeongchang, Munich and Annecy, France, made their case to International Olympic Committee members Wednesday and Thursday, and now will focus on preparing for the final presentations and vote on July 6 in Durban, South Africa. The two days of meetings with IOC members consolidated Pyeongchangs longtime status as the city to beat, but also provided Munich a tangible boost as a serious challenger and gave Annecy hope to believe it still has a chance. "The French are working well and trying hard, but I think very honestly it will be between Germany and Korea," Swiss IOC executive board member Rene Fasel told The Associated Press. Another senior board member, Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, agreed. "I think this one is a close race between the top two," he told the AP. Fasel said there is "no question" that Pyeongchang remains the favourite. The South Koreans, bidding for a third consecutive time after narrow defeats for the 2010 and 2014 Games, are pushing the case of taking the Olympics to a new winter sports market in Asia. "I dont think its that easy," said Gerhard Heiberg, an executive board member from Norway. "Its closer than what people say." Munich says its time to bring the event back to winter sports-loving Germany for the first time in 80 years, while Annecy proposes "authentic" village-style Games in the heart of the Alps. In many ways, the decision comes down to whether the IOC wants to continue the trend of moving to new territories or return to its European roots. The geographical argument has pull with Fasel who, as head of the international ice hockey federation, is eager to promote his sport in Asia. "When the Germans are organizing something, its 100 per cent, no doubt," Fasel said. "Its very precise, well done and well presented, but the Koreans are here three times. Its time to go a little bit to Asia. Running a third time is for sure an advantage." The bid cities made closed-door presentations to 88 of the IOCs 110 members on Wednesday. On Thursday, more than 60 members visited the candidates exhibition rooms at a Lausanne hotel, viewing high-tech digital videos and maps and asking detailed questions about the bid proposals. The members now have less than two months to absorb the information before casting their secret ballots in Durban. A voting majority is required for victory. Pyeongchang led both times after the first round of previous ballots, but ended up losing in the final round to Vancouver for the 2010 Games and Sochi, Russia, for 2014. The Koreans would hope to secure enough votes in the first round this time. Voting for the Winter Games can be unpredictable because many of the IOC members come from countries with little winter sports interest. "A lot of IOC members vote not with their heads but with their hearts," Heiberg said. "Its a question on the emotional side, the personal side. Thats why its very difficult to predict the outcome." This was the second time the IOC has arranged a special meeting with bid cities ahead of the vote, and the first time for the Winter Games. Two years ago, the first such meeting was pivotal in giving Rio de Janeiro a surge of support that carried it to victory a few months later in the vote for the 2016 Summer Games. There was no game-changing moment this time. "I dont think there were major seismic shifts yesterday," Carrion said. "Last time, there was a marked shift of momentum in favour of Rio. I dont sense that this time, but you never know." Members said Pyeongchang did what it needed to maintain its strong position, but the South Koreans continued to downplay their presumed favourite status. "Were very satisfied," bid chairman Cho Yang-Ho said. "We presented our message. Now we just have to keep going, keep running. We cannot stop. Even if we have more confidence than before, we still cannot relax. We have to go the same pace all the way to Durban." The mood in the Munich camp was ebullient, with the feeling that the German bid had picked up considerable steam. "What we hear is that we got our message across of modern, sustainable, magic Winter Games full of Olympic atmosphere," said Thomas Bach, an IOC vice-president who is a senior figure in the Munich bid. Bach said he wasnt concerned with predictions of who is leading or not. "This is a marathon," he said. "You have to cross the finish line first. Its not about leading halfway or at 30 kilometres. We can go with full confidence to Durban that we can make it. It will be a tough race until the end." Annecy bid leader Charles Beigbeder said he thought the French candidacy, once considered a longshot at best, was a legitimate contender. "We have demonstrated that technically there is no more issue," he said. "Now this is behind us and everything starts. We are already in the mood of being an OCOG (organizing committee). We are absolutely confident and we strongly believe its time for Annecy." World Cup Jerseys From China
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. Less than two weeks after scoring a Champions League record five times, the three-time world player of the year took his career club tally to 234 goals, beating a 57-year-old milestone held by Cesar Rodriguez by two goals.MILWAUKEE -- Every shot Caron Butler made helped dull the pain of a recent root canal. Ending a nine-game losing streak? That gave the Milwaukee Bucks veteran forward a reason to smile. Butler scored 30 points two days after major dental work and the Bucks rallied from 13 points down in the third quarter for a 104-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. "I dont have that much energy," Butler said with a smile. "Im going to go home, go to sleep. Just relax." A well-deserved break after shooting 12 of 21 and leading the charge by the Bucks bench in the fourth quarter. All on his bobblehead night, too. Butler was questionable for the game because he was still getting over his trip to the dentist. "I wasnt feeling good yesterday, feeling extremely weak," he said. Coach Larry Drew "believed in me tonight and gave me an opportunity. Thats why it was even more special." Brandon Knight added 16 points against the team that traded him in the off-season, while backup centre Miroslav Raduljica added eight points and eight rebounds. He was part of the reserve corps -- with Khris Middleton (10 points) and Luke Ridnour (eight points) -- that helped close the gap. The Bucks trailed 76-63 in the third quarter, largely due to Brandon Jennings, who finished with 30 points for Detroit. But Butler provided a boost with his jumper in the fourth and the Bucks held on late. Josh Smith missed two foul shots with about 5 seconds left and Rodney Stuckey missed a desperation 3 at the buzzer. "Its important we keep the attitude and intensity. I think we got a little comfortable, but we cant let that happen," Jennings said. "No matter what their record is, thats an NBA team over there. At 8-33, the Bucks have the worst record in the NBA, but received a sorely needed confidence boost at the midpoint of the season. "I told our guys after the game, its nice to get off that losing streak. Lets enjoy the moment, remember what this feels like tomorrow," Drew said. "By no stretch of the imagination is losing fun." Knight, who was traaded for Jennings, also had nine assists and six rebounds, while Ersan Ilyasova added 12 points.dddddddddddd. Greg Monroe added 18 points for Detroit and Stuckey finished 23. The last few minutes found Jennings and Knight guarding each other on the perimeter. Jennings blocked Knight with about 7 seconds left, but Smith missed the two foul shots at the other end. The Pistons had one last chance after a contested possession was ruled in favour of Detroit. Stuckeys 3-point attempt from the corner sailed harmlessly into the side of the glass. "We made a few bad decisions on both ends of the floor, but I gave up a lot of offensive rebounds so I have to slap myself on the wrist for that," said centre Andre Drummond, who finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. A game after going scoreless against the Clippers, Jennings shot 11 of 23 against the team that drafted him in the first round in 2009. Facing off against Knight at one point in the third quarter, Jennings hit a deep 3 to give Detroit a 76-63 lead, then turned to the crowd and pointed his index finger to his forehead. The Bucks started chipping away. With the shot clock winding down at the end of the third quarter, Butler hit a long 3 to get Milwaukee within 84-81. "That was definitely a momentum-changer. If we get that rebound and secure that ball, we go into the fourth up seven or eight points," Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. Just another highlight from a memorable game for Butler. His play off the bench was especially important given the Bucks were without starting centre Larry Sanders and veteran guard O.J. Mayo due to illness. As for Butlers bobblehead doll, the likeness was close enough. "It looks like my cousin," he said, "but itll do, we are related." NOTES: The Pistons, the NBAs top offensive rebounding team coming into the night at 14.4 per game, were outrebounded on the offensive glass, 12-9 ... Milwaukee G Luke Ridnour wore a sleeve around the right wrist he sprained on Saturday against the Spurs. ... Milwaukee used its 19th different starting lineup in its 41st game this season. ' ' '