Yao Ming and Starz Sports International partners with TBT to Take Concept to China

The Basketball Tournament & Starz Sports to Expand Open Tournament Globally

BOSTON – August 1, 2016  – The Basketball Tournament (TBT) today announced the first step in its International expansion.  Yao Ming and Starz Sports International, a leading agency and event company in China, will develop TBT China partnering with TBT in global expansion. TBT China’s event will incorporate TBT’s fan first, social media driven, open basketball tournament model. China’s winning team will play into TBT USA.

“TBT is a powerful international platform that leverages the popularity of social media to create unbelievable interaction between fans and their teams.  The open tournament format elevates grassroots basketball to a higher level,” said 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee Yao Ming.

“Yao Ming and Starz Sports really are perfect partners to introduce TBT to the Chinese people,” said Jon Mugar, TBT founder and CEO. “Our vision of TBT has always been a global event that brings together cultures, styles, and people through social media and the international game of basketball.  Ultimately we will have millions of people around the world, both players and fans, actually participating in an annual sports / media event.  We are incredibly excited to work with Yao and his team on realizing this vision.”

Now in its third year, the winner takes all, single elimination basketball tournament opened play in Philadelphia in 2014, with a grand prize of $500,000. The prize doubled in TBT’s second year, jumping to $1 million in 2015, as TBT inked a deal with ESPN and expanded nationally to four regions across the USA. This summer, TBT’s prize doubled once again to $2 million and ESPN broadcast the final 15 games live on its family of networks. The 2016 Final will take place Tuesday night at 7:00 pm at Rose Hill Gym on the campus of Fordham University in New York, with defending champion Overseas Elite meeting Team Colorado live on ESPN.

Open to all players, TBT’s unique qualification period, in which the fans vote on which teams should get the chance to compete, ran from April 1 to June 1 on The 2016, 64-team field competed in a single-elimination format across four regions until a winner emerges on August 2, live on ESPN. The social media based entry format will remain in place in TBT China, as will the team/fan payout split, allowing fans that support the winning teams to get a share of the prize.


Founded in August 2004, Beijing Starz International Sports Management Co. Ltd. (Starz Sports) is a global leader in sports marketing and management. In conjunction with Yao Ming's “Team Yao” agency, Starz Sports specializes in event management and business development. Utilizing its strong resource base, global reach and state of the art techniques—tailored to the Chinese marketplace—Starz Sports seeks to integrate China’s booming sports industry with the rest of the world. Since its founding, Starz Sports has established close ties with top Chinese and international business enterprises. Starz Sports has initiated and promoted the Chinese University Basketball Super League (CUBS) - the most popular league of its kind in China.



Conceived by CEO Jonathan Mugar as the ultimate opportunity for fans, athletes and social media mavens to live out their dreams and chase once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, TBT is a high stakes sports/media event that is changing the way people consume professional sports. In its first two seasons, The Basketball Tournament drew over 400 team entries and over 100,000 participating fan entries from around the country. Participants range from professional players and recent college stars to pickup basketball players and fans who have never even played the game.  Among the event’s advisors are Tony Ponturo of Ponturo Management Group, Andy Dolich of Dolich Consulting, and Len DeLuca of Len DeLuca & Associates, LLC.


Jesse Leeds-Grant, TBT, 845-612-9329,

Joe Favorito, 917-566-8345,