PH mourns basketball great Caloy Loyzaga; 85 | Inquirer Sports

PH mourns basketball great Caloy Loyzaga; 85

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 01:05 AM January 28, 2016



Many of them never even saw him play.

And yet, tributes continued to pour in from sports personalities and fans in honor of Caloy Loyzaga, arguably the greatest basketball player to ever represent the country on the international stage, who passed away Wednesday morning. He was 85.


“It just happened this morning,” a grieving Chito Loyzaga, the legend’s son who also had a decorated PBA career and also suited up for the national team, told the Inquirer on the phone. The young Loyzaga excused himself and said he would give further details later.


Caloy Loyzaga was given the moniker “The Big Difference” because of his greatness on the basketball floor both in the country and in international events, counting two Olympic Games.

“He played for my family’s company (YCO) and he stood head and shoulders above the rest,” said former International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde. “He can never be forgotten and by far the best player I have ever seen. He’s a tall fellow, very hard to guard. But he’s a good guy also and low-key.”

“Caloy was a standout internationally,” said PBA Grand Slam coach Tommy Manotoc, who watched Loyzaga play both internationally and in the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (Micaa). “He wasn’t athletically gifted but he had the brains he used with his brawn that made him the Filipino most fit to play internationally at that time.”

Even those who met him long after he had retired and had heard of him from oral and written accounts, paid tribute to Loyzaga.


Gilas tributes


“RIP Philippine bball icon & National hero, Caloy Loyzaga. Was an honor to have met you. Hope to build on the foundation you’ve set. My prayers are with your family,” Gabe Norwood, the Rain or Shine swingman in the PBA and Gilas Pilipinas standout, posted on his Twitter account (@GNorwood5).

Jimmy Alapag, the former Gilas Pilipinas skipper, also posted an emotional tribute on his Instagram account (jalapag3).

“RIP to one of the legends of Philippine basketball Caloy ‘the Big Difference’ Loyzaga. I still remember your visit to our Gilas team locker room days before the FIBA Asia Championship in 2013. Thank you for the inspiration, and for setting the bar high for Philippine basketball. Look forward to the day we make our return to the Olympics. #Olympian #Legend #PUSO,” Alapag wrote.

Loyzaga played collegiate ball with the San Beda Red Lions in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and then suited up for the Philippines in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics.

Loyzaga stood 6-foot-3 but was a dominant center in his time and led the Philippines to a third place finish in the World Basketball Championship in 1954—the country’s best-ever finish—where he earned inclusion to the tournament’s All-Star team.

He averaged 16.4 points per contest in that tournament.

That Philippine team finish is the first and only time an Asian country got a medal in the prestigious event.

Immovable force

Led by Loyzaga, the Philippines was an immovable force in Asia, with the Filipinos winning the Asian Games gold four straight times from 1951 and ruling what is now known as the Fiba Asia Championship in 1960 and 1963.

Retiring in 1964, Loyzaga never got to play in the PBA when it opened in 1975, and instead, coached U-Tex and Tanduay after handling YCO in the defunct Micaa and Santo Tomas in the UAAP.

He also handled the Philippine team that won the 1967 ABC Championship.

Twitter was also filled with messages of condolences and tributes for Loyzaga.

Chot Reyes, like Loyzaga a former national coach who steered the Philippines to the Fiba World Cup, wrote on his Twitter account: “Just got word that ‘the BIG Difference’ Caloy Loyzaga just passed. We will be 4ever grateful and honored RIP #Legend.”

“RIP Caloy Loyzaga—‘The Big Difference’ King of Philippine Hoops #Respect #Philippinebasketball,” posted former University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) coach Luigi Trillo.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. called Loyzaga a big star who eluded controversy.

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“I had the opportunity to watch him play also. He’s a big star. But for a star player, I don’t remember that he’s seen any controversies. He’s also the bida (star) but that’s it,” said Cojuangco. With reports from Marc Anthony Reyes and Karl Angelica R. Ocampo

TAGS: Carlos Loyzaga, News, Sports

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