“THE BIG DIFFERENCE” of Philippine basketball and San Beda Red Lions legend, Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga, has cemented his place as one of the greatest basketball players in the world upon being posthumuously inducted into the 2023 class of the Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball (FIBA) Hall of Fame at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza last August 23.
A two-time Olympian, 1954 FIBA World Cup bronze medalist, and three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion, Loyzaga made history as the first Filipino player to be inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame and the second Filipino ever to achieve such a feat, following his own coach Dionisio Calvo, who was inducted in 2007. He joins 12 other basketball greats for this year’s class, which includes the likes of former NBA star Yao Ming and Yuko Oga of Japan.
Before garnering international acclaim, Caloy honed his skills at the courts of Sta. Mesa, Manila with the Teresa Valenzuela Athletic Club (TERVALAC), and later on for the Philippine Relief and Trade Rehabilitation Administration (PRATRA) team, earning a title in the 1949 junior Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA).
He then played college basketball for the then-San Beda College (SBC), which earned three NCAA titles for the Red Lions in the years 1951-1952 and 1955.
This feat saw the Red Lions beat their former NCAA rivals, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, in winning the Zamora Cup. The now-retired trophy was awarded to the first team that won
at least three NCAA championships which is the reason why his collegiate accolades with the Red Lions earned him his legendary name of “The Big Difference.”
Badgering a play in the Olympic Games, his team had finished ninth in his first year, Helsinki in 1952, and seventh on the second, Melbourne in 1956. He became known in 1954, at the FIBA World Cup held at Rio de Janeiro, for being one of the lead scorers, which earned him more prominence in the basketball community.
His international accolades as a player include four Asian Games gold medals, two Asia Cup gold medals, and a bronze medal in the 1954 FIBA World Championship. The national team’s bronze medal in the 1954 FIBA World Championship remains the highest finish of the Philippines and any Asian country in the tournament.
Loyzaga died on January 27, 2016, at the age of 85. After his death, his alma mater, also the host for NCAA Season 92, retired his Number 14 jersey during the opening ceremony of the season on June 25, 2016.
Loyzaga’s family, together with his sons and daughters, with one of them being Chito Loyzaga, also a former Red Lion, beheld the honorable event of the whole NCAA community showing their gratitude for the Philippine basketball legend.
The groundbreaking start also led to a historical end, as the Red Lions reclaimed their title against its archrival Letran Knights, as they dueled Arellano Chiefs in the finals of that season.
Seven years after his death, “The Big Difference” still is adding another accolade to his illustrious career, being a FIBA Hall of Famer. His family accepted the award on his behalf.
“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 love for our country the Philippines continue to inspire athletes of today and those in generations to come,” said his son Chito during the acceptance of the award.
(with Mika Isidro)