Rizal Memorial Coliseum
May 15, 2016
The Big Difference
Let’s play a game.
It’s called question and answer.
I ask one question and you answer. Simple.
Are you game?
Yes? Yes. So good luck.
Who is the greatest Filipino basketball player of all time?
Millenials, as they call the youth now, will probably answer Junemar Fajardo or Calvin Abueva or Greg Slaughter or Japeth Aguilar or Mark Barroca. Maybe a James Yap or an LA Tenorio or an Arwind Santos. I’ll probably get Beau Belga as an answer from some.
Stretching to an older group, they’ll probably go for Mark Caguioa, maybe a Danny Ildefonso or a Danny Seigle or an Asi Taulava.
Or we can go straight in my age bracket where we’ll probably give names like Ramon Fernandez, Sonny Jaworski, Benjie Paras, Alvin Patrimonio, Allan Caidic or Samboy Lim.
We’re all wrong.
I mean no disrespect because all of the aforementioned are greats or at least worthy to be mentioned in the conversation. But the answer is someone who played when there was still no facebook, or youtube, or Twitter, or Instagram. Heck, most of us were probably not born yet when this mythical figure wreaked havoc in the local and international basketball scenes.
His name is Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga.
I have no videos to back up my claim nor have I collated actual game stats to strengthen my case. What I have are his accomplishments. And they are appenty.
Loyzaga is part of the national team that took the bronze in the 1954 World Championship in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. This is the single biggest accomplishment by our basketball-crazy Philippines in the international stage. Ever. Bronze medal? World? We can’t even make it to the Olympics so you can just imagine the magnitude of the accomplishment.
Apart from it, Loyzaga also spearheaded the country to four gold medals in the Asian Games in 1951 in New Delhi, 1954 in Manila, 1958 in Tokyo and 1962 in Jakarta and two more mints in the FIBA-Asia Championship, formerly Asian Basketball Confederation, in 1960 in Manila and 1963 in Taipei.
To top it all off, Loyzaga, is the only Filipino to make it into the First Mythical Team of the 1954 FIBA Worlds.
So I rest my case.
I was blessed with the opportunity to meet the guy several times. And usually, I always had goosebumps whenever I’m in face to face with someone of his stature. I mean, you’ll just know if the guy is great. I feel it in Eugene Torre, Paeng Nepomuceno, Efren “Bata” Reyes or a Sonny Jaworski or a Ramon Fernandez to name a few.
The last time I saw the guy was last year when he was honored and rewarded a P1 million pension by the Philippine Sports Commission at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila. In fact, I popped this photo below, which came out in The Philippine STAR and philstar.com with my accompanying story.
Carlos Loyzaga passed away early this year. Sad.
The greatest Filipino basketball player of all time deserves the greatest respect and recognition.
And Loyzaga, considered as the best Filipino to ever play the game, will be honored once more as the NCAA and San Beda have announced it will retire his No. 14 jersey he wore during his varsity days in the 50s, an era where he won three championships including a back-to-back in 1951 and 1952. He will be the first player in the NCAA, perhaps the whole of Phl college basketball, whose number will be retired.
The jersey retirement ceremony, according to NCAA Management Committee chairman Jose Mari Lacson of San Beda, is set at the opening of the 92nd NCAA season on June 25 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. No less than Loyzaga’s family will be there to witness the momentous event.
And it is just a simple gesture to show how appreciative, not just San Beda nor the NCAA but the whole Philippines, of the honor Loyzaga gave for the country.
So thank you Carlos Loyzaga.
For putting the country on the world basketball map.
For showing us Filipinos that we are capable of making a difference out there.
I mean big difference.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar