A Tribute to the Big Difference

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Carlos Loyzaga dives for the lose ball against the Americans, this endearing image was supposedly taken during the 1954 FIBA World Championship. Credit to Spin.Ph

 

 

Carlos “The Big Difference” Loyzaga will always be the country’s Mr. Basketball. His contributions both to the NCAA and MICAA, coaching both the amateur and professional ranks will always be a footnote compared to his contributions while wearing the three stars and sun during his prime back in the 50’s and 60’s. His heroics on the court while leading the “Philippine Islanders” (the monicker of our National Team back in the day) solidified the country as a basketball powerhouse not only in Asia but also in the entire planet, as evident in the country’s 3rd place finish at the 1954 FIBA World Championship (to date the highest finish by an Asian country in the quadrennial event). He also had numerous championships in both the Asian qualifiers and Far East Games and helped the San Beda Red Lions win 3 titles in the 1950’s and perpetually own the Zamora Trophy.

The following is an article written by my college friend Jonas Terrado. Like me, he shares my love for basketball. Here is his tribute to the man who, in my opinion, without a shadow of a doubt, is, was, and forever will be The Greatest Ballplayer in Philippine Basketball. One of the best in the world. Carlos Loyzaga.

Basketball great Loyzaga dies at 85

Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/basketball-great-loyzaga-dies-at-85/#yJTFEgz6GuOIhxoy.99

Carlos Loyzaga, the man considered as the greatest Filipino to play basketball and whose moniker “The Great Difference” epitomized his role and impact as the player who can do it all, died yesterday. He was 85.

His son, former PBA player Chito Loyzaga, said the elder Loyzaga died of cardiac arrest after being hospitalized for almost two weeks at the Cardinal Santos Hospital due to pneumonia.

The family was expecting him to be discharged when he passed away unexpectedly.

The iconic basketball player who lifted the Philippines to unprecedented heights in international basketball, including a third place finish in the 1954 FIBA World Championship, had been in failing health for years.

“His basketball accomplishments were well-known, but most people don’t know that he was a lovely husband, a good father and a good friend. He lived a good life and played for flag and country with a passion,” Chito said, adding that the public viewing of Caloy’s wake will start this morning at the Arlington Memorial Chapel.

Besides being “The Great Difference,” he was also nicknamed “King Caloy,” a tribute to his lording it over Philippine basketball which ever uniform he wore.

“For a star player, I don’t remember that he figured in any controversy,” said Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. yesterday after learning of Caloy’s death.

Former International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde, whose company in the 1950s was where Loyzaga played, echoed Cojuangco’s sentiments about the 6-foot-3 legend.

“At that time he was really the big difference because he stood head and shoulders over most of his teammates,” said Elizalde, whose family owned YCO Paints in the MICAA.

“He was a very good person and he will never be forgotten,” said Elizalde.

After being discovered in a basketball lot in Sta. Mesa, Manila, Loyzaga went on to become the toast of the basketball-crazy Filipinos. He first made his mark while playing for San Beda where he led the Red Lions to two straight NCAA championships in 1951 and 1952, and a third one came in 1955.

Such was Loyzaga’s incredible skill as a player that while in college, he led the Philippines in the 1952 Olympics.

But it was in the 1952 NCAA title game that Loyzaga cemented his legend.

He was hailed as the hero of the Red Lions’ 50-39 win over the Green Archers at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum when he scored most of his 18 points in the final half to seal the crown.

“Carlos Loyzaga was terrific, and that was the big advantage San Beda had over La Salle in last night’s NCAA cage finals,” then Bulletin Sports Editor Jimmie Lacsamana said in his column. “The ‘golden boy’ of local courts was calm, calculating and devastating. He’s some basketball power. That’s it – Loyzaga’s cage power routed La Salle’s quintet of six-footers.”

After winning his final NCAA championship for the Red Lions in 1955, Loyzaga shifted his focus on the commercial league.

But before doing so, Loyzaga had one of his greatest performances when he carried the Philippines to third place in the World Championship held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Loyzaga averaged 16.4 points per game in the tournament, capping off his great campaign with a 20-point performance in a 66-60 victory over France and a 33-point explosion in a 67-63 triumph over Uruguay to seal third place honors.

“Loyzaga, the tallest man on the Philippine squad, repeatedly provided the spark which enabled the Islanders to tie or pass Uruguay,” the Associated Press said in its game story.

He also played in the 1956 Olympic Games, won four Asian Games gold medals (1951, ‘54, ‘58, ‘62) and two Asian Basketball Confederation Championships (1960 and ‘63) even as a playing coach steered YCO to multiple MICAA and national seniors championships, mostly at the expense of bitter rival Ysmael Steel.

He ended his playing career in 1964 to concentrate on coaching full-time. He guided University of Santo Tomas to the UAAP championship over Far Eastern University that same year.

His best coaching accomplishment came in 1967 when he steered the Philippines to its third Asian Championship with a hard-fought 83-80 win over host South Korea in the finals in Seoul.

“All our players are good and I could use all of them whenever I wanted,” he said in a United Press International article. “There’s little difference in quality among our players.”

His dirty dozen included team captain Alberto Reynoso, Orlando Bauzon, Narciso Bernardo, Danny Florencio, whose late basket gave the Filipinos a timely cushion, Jimmy Mariano, Tembong Melencio, Ed Ocampo, Adriano Papa Jr., Renato Reyes, Joaquin Rojas Jr., Edgardo Roque and Robert Jaworski.

The Philippine cagers received a warm welcome upon their arrival. One well-wisher flashed a sign saying “Loyzaga. Pogi Na, Goli Pa” as the coach was mobbed by the adoring crowd at the airport.

He was also an assistant coach to the late Tito Eduque when the Nationals repeated over the Koreans in the finals, 90-78, in the 1973 ABC finals held at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, the country’s fourth ABC crown.

Loyzaga eventually had two spells as PBA coach with U-Tex and Tanduay, before watching his sons Chito and Joey play in the pro ranks. His daughters, Bing and Teresa, found their own niches in the showbiz industry. (With report from Nick Giongco)

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WE’RE GETTING THERE

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Gilas Pilipinas Basketball Team Captain Jimmy Alapag lifts the 1st runner-up trophy.

They have achieved what they many have said the impossible. well even before the game against South Korea, or even after the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, there are a number of people who doubted Team Gilas Pilipinas. Even to the point of asking why they have to be bankrolled by someone (that someone happens to be Manny V. Pangilinan who owns 2 PBA teams the Meralco Bolts and the mighty Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters) who has to put his own product in front of our National Team’s jerseys (our team was known as Smart Gilas Pilipinas back in the day). People then asked why do some teams need to loan players against a rival organization (San Miguel Corporation are rivals in the corporate world and in the PBA, San Miguel Corp owns 3 PBA teams in the PBA namely the Petron Blaze Boosters, the San Mig Coffee Mixers, and the Brgy. Ginebra Kings)? Fans from the SMC side (well fickle minded fans) are insisting that they will never ever lend players not even for a Patriotic reasons, because it’s stupid, and some of those fans then preached that we won’t be able to finish in the top 3. I can still remember their arguments and how I insisted that it is possible, that we just need to believe and pray and our boys play hard.

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the Silver Medal finish is the highest finish by the Philippines since the 1985 “Philippine” team lead by Ron Jacobs’ NCC Philippines

With the conquest over South Korea (as mentioned in my other piece), we automatically booked ourselves a ticket to the 2014 FIBA World Championship, though we came up short against the Persians (Iran) in the Gold Medal match, the proud Philippine team gladly accepted their Silver Medal to the delight of the Filipinos all around the world. The Silver Medal not only signifies years and years of frustrations in the Asian Games and the FIBA tournaments in the past, but it also signifies redemption. Redemption that one day we can be considered the Best in Asia once again and maybe tomorrow, we will be the ones accepting those gold medals. Who knows? I believed that a top 3 finish is possible, everybody should.

With that I wish the success of the Philippine Men’s Basketball team can rub off to other athletes like our Philippine Azkals, the Philippine Volcanoes, the Cobra Energy Dragon Boat Team, our boxers such as Marc Barriga, and a lot of us. I wish us all the best in the future. LABAN PILIPINAS

Reckoning Day: The Day we finally beat Korea, an insight

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Marc Pingris celebrates as the buzzer sounded

All the years of heartache, the frustration, the dismay and distraught came to an end at least for now, as Team Gilas Pilipinas pulled off a 86-79 victory over our arch nemesis South Korea in the Semi-Finals of the FIBA Asia Championship last August 10, 2013. Marc Pingris led the inspirational push for our very own cagers even with Marcus Douthit riding the bench because of a calf injury. Also leading the way is Ranidel De Ocampo as provided a much needed scoring down the stretch and Jimmy Alapag with his dagger 3s in the dying moments of the 4th Quarter. Jason Castro provided devastation in the 3rd Quarter as well.

The victory propelled Gilas Pilipinas to a gold medal match against Iran later and the victory ended the South Korean nightmare that our basketball program had to carry for years. The South Koreans are our number 1 tormentors in Asia, we lost to them in ABC Tournaments and Asian Games. Most memorable loses came from the 1986 Asian Games, 1998 Asian Games, 2002 Asian Games and the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. What hurt most for me though is in 2002 where in we were up by 2 only to be foiled by a buzzer beating 3pt heave by Lin Sang Min that propelled the Koreans to the Gold Medal match against Yao Ming’s Chinese Basketball Team. That loss burdened a lot of us and the players especially Olsen Racela who missed 2 FTs with 23 ticks left in the clock with team Philippines leading 68-66 at that time. The Koreans escaped with a 69-68 win. Finally we can erase that bitter memory from our minds, we will proud of the fact that we have finally exorcised our demons at least for the moment (and hopefully this can start our master over our Korean neighbors at least in Basketball).  Finally after God knows how many years we have finally beaten the South Koreans, despite the doubters and haters mocking the program. Despite people belittling Manny Pangilinan’s desire to put our country back in the World stage, despite people mocking Gary David and Noli Eala and the San Miguel Corporation people not lending it’s players to the national team (well they did lend Tenorio and Pingris) they finally won, not only for those who believed but also for the haters!

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Memebers of Gilas: Marcus Douthit and Gary David (on the background), Larry Fonacier, RDO and June Mar Fajardo celebrates as The Philippines exorcised the South Korean curse 86-79