The Basketball Tournament, a $2 million winner-take-all summer tournament aired on ESPN, announced a partnership with Spokane Hoopfest on Thursday that will bring part of the tournament to Spokane.
TBT is a single-elimination, 5-on-5 tournament that features a 72-team bracket split into four regions of 18 teams. Teams are predominately made up of current professional basketball players, college alumni and former NBA and international players.
Hoopfest, the largest 3-on-3 weekend tournament in the world, will host a four-team pod out of the tournament’s West Region on June 29-30. It will take place on the same weekend as Hoopfest, which will take over the streets of downtown Spokane on June 30 and July 1.
The first round of TBT will be on June 29 and will replace the Gonzaga alumni game that occurred the Friday night before Hoopfest the past two years. The second round including Friday’s winners is expected to start later in the day on Saturday, June 30, after the first day of Hoopfest ends.
Matt Santangelo, the executive director of Hoopfest, said on Thursday that discussions about creating a partnership between the organizations began roughly three months ago. Hoopfest and TBT have not determined where the three games will be played, but Santangelo said he expects a small venue to keep the event somewhat exclusive.
Santangelo said he hopes that the presence of TBT during Hoopfest weekend will improve the overall experience of the 24,000 players and 225,000 fans who travel to Spokane each year.
“We get so many people in from out of town, to give them something that Friday night … will enhance that excitement and energy that’s happening around Hoopfest,” Santangelo said. “Basketball City, USA, is born that weekend … this is just another way to play on that theme and enhance the weekend.”
There is a chance that fans will still see Gonzaga alumni play in Spokane during the first two rounds of the tournament. Last year, Gonzaga alumni and former players, including Dan Dickau and Blake Stepp, created a team called Few Good Men, playing off the name of longtime coach Mark Few, to play in the tournament. Few Good Men earned a second seed in the West Region based on fan votes.
The Gonzaga alumni traveled to Las Vegas for the first and second rounds, defeating Mostly Sports Delco and Team Utah, made up of mostly University of Utah alumni, to get through to the West Regional in Brooklyn.
In Brooklyn, Few Good Men fell to to Team ALS, which went on to take second in the tournament.
Few Good Men hasn’t applied to compete in the tournament this year. Applications close on June 1.