Philippine basketball legend Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga, passed away at 85 on Wednesday at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City.
Loyzaga, who earned the moniker “The Big Difference” during his heydays returned to the country two years after he suffered a massive stroke in Australia in 2011.
He led the country to a ninth and seventh place finish in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, respectively.
Loyzaga also led the national team to winning four consecutive Asian Games gold medals – in 1951 (New Delhi), 1954 (Manila), 1958 (Tokyo) and 1962 (Jakarta). Through his prowess, the country also ruled two FIBA Asia Championships—in 1960 (Manila) and 1963 (Taiwan).
Loyzaga was also a member of the Philippine team that won bronze medal in the 1954 Rio de Janeiro FIBA World Championship—the first and only for an Asian country or any nation outside of America and Europe. He became a part of the tournament’s All-Star team that time.
Loyzaga’s career started when we he was discovered by Gabby Fajardo while playing basketball at the Teresa Valenzuela Athletic Club in his neighborhood in Teresa Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Fajardo’s older brother, then San Beda College head coach Fely Fajardo, eventually recruited him to become a member of the Red Lions. Loyzaga led San Beda during the 1951 and 1952 National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championships.
After college, Loyzaga joined the YCO Painters in 1954. He helped the YCO Painters post a 49-game winning streak from 1954 to 1956 and win several titles in the now-defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association.
Loyzaga was also the head coach of the national team during 1967 FIBA Asia Championships and 1968 Olympic Games where the team finished 13th.
In 1999, he was inducted into the Philippine National Basketball Hall of Fame.
“We all know him because of his accomplishments as a basketball player and his dedication to the sport and representing the country in international competitions but apart from that, he was also a loving husband, a loving father who loves his wife, his children, and his family,” Loyzaga’s son, Chito Loyzaga told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
“A Philippine icon. Philippine basketball legend. My grandfather. You will be missed. I love you, lolo. RIP,” Diego Loyzaga said via Instagram post on Wednesday. Diego is the son of Loyzaga’s daughter Teresa.
Loyzaga’s wake will be open to the public from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Arlington Memorial Chapels in G. Araneta Avenue in Quezon City.