After an enshrinement ceremony that took years to materialize, Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga had formally laid claim to the tag as the greatest Filipino basketball of all time.
In a glittery ceremony that was graced by the who’s who of international basketball on Wednesday night at the Harbour Garden tent of Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Loyzaga’s children took the centerstage to reminisce the greatness of the slotman fondly called as “The Big Difference.”
In his speech, Loyzaga’s son, Chito, shares his father’s passion in representing the national squad in major international tournaments.
“It was barely a decade after the devastation of the second World War that a young Carlos Loyzaga led an
all-Filipino team to Rio de Janeiro to compete in what was then the World Basketball Championship. These young men, thirsty to represent the ideals and aspirations of our young nation on the global sporting stage,” said Chito, who joined his brother Joey and sisters Bing and Teresa as well as his better half, Victoria, in receiving his father’s Hall of Fame award from outgoing International Basketball Federation president Hamane Niang.
“Their bronze medal remains the highest finish by any Asian country today.”
Loyzaga did not only lead the Philippines to its highest finish ever in the history of world basketball in 1954, but also emerged as one of the brightest stars in the tournament.
Despite standing only 6-foot-3, Loyzaga dominated his foes at the center spot. In fact, he emerged as the second most productive player in the 1954 event, scoring 148 points, just few points behind eventual top scorer Carl Ridd of Canada.
But in the final round, Loyzaga was able to get the better end of his match with Rid and Oscar Moglia of Uruguay, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame way ahead of the legendary Filipino.
Chito recalled how his dad took pride in representing the country more than anything else.
“My father used to say, ‘it doesn’t matter what name is written on the back of your jersey. What matters is the flag you represent on its front.’ May Carlos Loyzaga’s love for basketball and his love for our country, the Philippines, continue to inspire athletes of today and those in the generations to come,” said Chito, a former star player of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel who became a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission.
Now, Loyzaga is running the affairs of the country’s baseball federation.
His brother Joey, whom he played with at Ginebra, shared his elder brother’s observation on Loyzaga’s dedication to represent the national squad.
“He’s already assured and he still wanted to play,” Joey said.
“He broke his wrist before the start of the Rome Olympics and went to his coach and cried as he wanted to be included. So I’m really hats off to him.”
But for Chito, he’s hoping that more than anything else, Loyzaga would be remembered other than being an exceptional ball player.
“Beyond his accolades, our family hopes that he will be remembered for his love for the game,” Chito said, his voice starting to crack.
“Along with these, may he also be remembered for his honesty, integrity, sense of justice and fair play. His simple dignity, quiet humility, and the deep gratitude for having been given the opportunity to represent this country, these perhaps, will set him apart from some of the athletes past and present.”