A defense for coach Bong? | Inquirer Sports
In Huddle

A defense for coach Bong?

/ 12:49 AM February 01, 2016

COACH Bong dela Cruz of the University of Santo Tomas Tigers must have the blood of Korean coaches running in his veins. He has been suspended by the university management and is being investigated on complaints of physical and verbal abuse by his players.

We’re not certain if the practice has been discarded but years ago, it was not unusual for Korean coaches to maltreat their athletes if they made mistakes during training.

The erring athlete got a dressing down in-between slaps, punches, elbows, shoves and kicks, but he would just stand there, his head bowed, and accept all the punishment.

It was said to be part of Korean culture and accepted without complaint. The Koreans believed this was the best way to discipline erring athletes.


That’s a good argument in defense of coach Bong, but I don’t think he’ll get away with it.

* * *

Given his health condition at the time I bumped into him at a wholesale store more than a year ago, it’s amazing how Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga, local basketball’s “Big Difference,” could stay in high spirits.

Loyzaga was in a wheelchair, had lost his speech after a stroke months earlier, and yet he was grinning from ear to ear.


He put his index finger across his lips, wanting me not to tell anyone that he was in Manila, according to daughter Bing Loyzaga who was with him and Vicky, his wife of five decades.

Caloy and Vicky (née Cuerva) have made Australia their home after his retirement from basketball, opting to stay independent until old age, along with the various maladies that went with the inevitable process, crept in.


Loyzaga stopped working when he got very sick. And this was not until he was in his 70s, if I remember correctly. By then, Vicky had taken care of him full time.

Eventually, the couple agreed to fly back to Manila and live with Bing, who is married to singer-actor Janno Gibbs. Previously they flew between Australia and the Philippines for medical consultation.

* * *

I had known Loyzaga and his family practically all my life, although we weren’t really that close. To me, Loyzaga would always be the Big Difference, the most decorated player of Philippine basketball.

Back in the 1960s while I looked up to Loyzaga as the greatest and the best, I was fascinated with his wife Vicky—the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. They produced five children: Chito, Joey, Tong, Princess and Bing. Caloy’s pet name for Joey was “Russo” and for Chito, “Cachito.”

The Loyzagas were a close-knit, loving family and I will always regard Caloy as an ideal husband and father. Above all, he is the finest Filipino cager who gave his country the highest honors in international basketball.

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TAGS: Australia, Big Difference, bong dela cruz, international, Manila

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