The recognition took a long time coming.
Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga, also known as “The Big Difference” will finally be enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame on August 23, 2023, two days before the FIBA World Cup hosted by the Philippines, and his son Joey couldn’t be happier.
In an exclusive interview with The Rivalry, Joey expressed elation for his dad’s enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m so grateful and excited at the same time. Thankful to our dear God for this thing to happen,” the younger Loyzaga revealed. “’You know, I’m jumping right now because I’m happy and I feel like embracing my mom and siblings for history to happen – not only for Dad but for family, Philippine basketball and international sports. I’m so ecstatic.”
Loyzaga, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 85, is generally regarded as the greatest Filipino basketball player of all time. The native of San Jose, Mindoro proudly donned the red colors of the San Beda Red Lions wearing jersey #14 in the NCAA starting in 1951, towing the Mendiola-based squad to two collegiate championships. He was then taken in by the Elizalde family to play for the vaunted YCO Painters in 1954 and helped the Painters to win the MICAA title that year. YCO became so dominant with Loyzaga manning the paint as it went on to establish a 49—game winning streak from 1954 to 1956. Aside from multiple MICAA championships, he also led the team to 10 National Open championships, then considered the most prestigious basketball tournament in the country.
But his proudest moment came in the FIBA World Championships held in Rio de Janeiro when he was named in the Mythical Team selection of the tournament, averaging 16.4 points per game and carrying the Philippine team to an unprecedented third place finish behind the United States and host Brazil. He also represented the country in various international jousts like the 1951 New Delhi, 1954 Manila, 1958 Tokyo and 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, powering the team to gold medal finishes in all four tournaments. He also carried the torch for the Philippines in their twin gold medal conquests in the 1960 and 1963 ABC (now FIBA-Asia) tournaments held in Manila and Taipei, respectively.
Loyzaga became one of the best Filipino coaches and was one of the first playing coaches in the 60’s for YCO. He handled several teams, including the UST Glowing Goldies in the UAAP and the U/Tex Weavers and the Tanduay Esquires in the PBA. He was also the coach of the victorious 1967 national team in the ABC tournament.
Joey and elder brother Chito also made names for themselves in Philippine basketball. The two are former national team players and later collaborated with another legend, Robert Jaworski, in making Ginebra San Miguel the most popular ballclub in PBA history.
When asked by The Rivalry if the award was long overdue, Joey replied, “Well, some people say he should have been there already way back. But hey, it’s happening soon, so that’s all that matters. It doesn’t bother me if the recognition was only given now – what matters is that it will be given to him,” Joey explained.
Caloy’s family – his wife, Vicky, and children, Joey, Chito, Princess, Teresa and Bing – will all be in Manila to receive the post-humous award.
Gil Cortez, the 1976 PBA Rookie of the Year, told The Rivalry that he felt Loyzaga’s recognition was a long time coming. “It’s long overdue – he should have received this much earlier.” Cortez was under Loyzaga from 1973 to 1975 at Manilabank and revealed that the Big Difference was a major factor in his career. “I became part of the national team in 1975 that played in the ABC and Coach Caloy was one of those who taught me how to play effectively inside – whether facing the basket or posting up. I remember how he taught us the fundamentals of defense, particularly against big men, and this helped me when I started defending the bigs of the other Asian teams and the opposing PBA teams’ imports.”
Loyzaga will be inducted in the FIBA Hall of Fame alongside Yao Ming of China, Brazil’s Wlarmir Marques, Penny Taylor of Australia, Sonny Hendrawan of Indonesia, Yuko Oga of Japan, Angola’s Angelo Victoriano, Georgia’s Zurab Sakandelidze, Amaya Valdemoro of Spain, Sandro Gamba of Italy, Valerie Ganier of France, and Katrina McClain of the United States. He will only be the second Filipino in the prestigious HoF, next to Dionisio “Chito” Calvo, who was inducted in 2007.