The Chronicle of ‘King Caloy’: A Filipino Legend

Carlos ‘Caloy’ Loyzaga was recognized as one of the greatest basketball players in the country. Baing an Internationally acclaimed legend, his dominance in the court was a manifesto as to what the Philippines can bring in the international arena.

/ 4 September 2020

Despite his death at the age of 85, his legacy still lives on at the hearts of all Filipinos in the field of the sport. His dedication and work justify his appellation “The Big Difference”. The 6-foot-3 player was indeed one of the legends in the world of basketball.

It was not that he brought many championships to the country, but it was genuinely his blood, sweat, and pure dedication that uplifts the Filipinos by his work—a legacy that is never easy to forget.

No other team in Asia had placed better in the World Cup. In addition, no team can replace how the Philippines won third place in the FIBA Worlds in 1954, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which is still the highest finish that the Philippines had garnered.  Loyzaga was the only Asian player to be included in the Mythical Team of the World Championships.

During his time, Caloy first brought outstanding performance to the San Beda Red Lions by winning back-to-back championships in the NCAA in (1951 and 1952). He then brought pride to the country by winning two gold medals in the FIBA-Asia Championship (1960 and 1963) and four times in the Asian Games (1951, 1954, 1958, and 1962). 

Caloy started playing in the small court named Teresa Valenzuela or Tervalac located in Teresa, Sta. Mesa. At that time, Olympian Gabby Fajardo was impressed by the well-rounded game of Caloy. It was then Gabby invited Caloy to start his playing career in the NCAA.

Caloy Loyzaga was a tough center player, as he did not just shine in the basketball scene in the country but also internationally. “He can never be forgotten and by far the best player I have ever seen. He’s a tall fellow, very hard to guard. But he’s a good guy also and low-key,” said former International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippine, Frank Elizalde.  

The big man retired in 1964. But, the work still continues as he coached the national squad, named ‘The Dirty Dozen’. During that time, the Philippines reclaimed the championship title from South Korea. He, later on, became a councilor in Manila and coached the Tanduay team in the PBA. 

He showed immense love to the country as he was not bothered by the injuries he has. For him, it was the honor of representing the country’s colors to the world. There was a time when Loyzaga almost lost his spot on the national team because of a broken hand. But the young Loyzaga tearfully begging a national coach to let him suit up for the Philippine team—a story every young athlete should know.

His greatness was never forgotten because of his strong influence on the sport. Before he passed away, he still wished that Filipino athletes, not just basketball players, would value the privilege and treasure the honor of playing for the flag and country, according to his son, Chito Loyzaga who relayed the message.

“You always bring out the passion in you when you play the sport and do your best. Hindi kailanman dapat mawala ang interes mong lumaro para sa bansa more than anything,” Chito Loyzaga added. 

There is a little work in trying to measure the greatness of a Caloy Loyzaga in basketball. He was truly a legend and pride of the Filipinos. It is a manifestation of “The Big Difference” that Filipinos now are striving hard to bring the name of the country to the international court and make a real difference in the field of sports.