Carlos Loyzaga also known as “Caloy” was one of the players who brought the bronze medal from FIBA World Championship last 1954 in Rio de Janeiro. He is considered as the greatest Filipino basketball player of all time because of his international achievements and being the flag-bearer of two-time Olympic basketball team for the Philippines.
Carlos Matute Loyzaga was born in Manila, Philippines on August 29, 1930 as the fourth child of Joaquin Loyzaga Sr. and Carmen Matute. He survived the World War II and learned to play the basketball in Teresa St., Sta Mesa, Manila. He was discovered and coached by Gabriel Fajardo, an Olympian basketball player at his prime.
In 1949, Loyzaga competed for the junior PRATRA (Philippine Relief and Trade Rehabilitation Administration) team and he eventually won the MICAA junior championship. When he stepped into the college ranks, his first choice was Letran but the coach gave him a cold shoulder when he tried out for the team, moreover he tried out for UST basketball team but didn’t materialize as Felicisimo Fajardo recruited him to join San Beda. Felicisimo is the brother of Gabriel Fajardo, the mentor of Caloy.
In the 1950s in NCAA, there was this elusive trophy called “Crispulo Zamora Cup Trophy” and it was only awarded to the first team to get three championship crowns. In Caloy’s time, there’s an on-going San Beda-Ateneo rivalry in NCAA, San Beda won the crown in 1951 and the 1952 season while Ateneo defeated San Beda in 1953 and secured the 1954 championship. The deciding year was in 1955 where Loyzaga successfully helped San Beda clinch the Zamora Trophy. Following San Beda’s triple championships (1951, 1952 and 1955), the Zamora Trophy was retired. That was the moment Caloy earned the legendary title of “The Big Difference”.
In his professional basketball career with YCO Painters, he had a record of 49 game winning streak from 1954 to 1956 including several MICAA titles and ten straight National Open titles. His professional basketball career lasted for only 10 years and immediately after retiring, he took over the head coaching job for the YCO Painters in 1964.
The thing we remembered the most about Carlos Loyzaga was his international competition achievements. He was a two-time Olympian in 1952 (which finished in 9th place) and 1956 (which finished in 7th place). He dominated the Asian basketball competition by winning four consecutive Asian Games gold medals (in 1951, 1954, 1958, 1962) and two consecutive FIBA Asia Championship gold medals (in 1960, and 1963). His defining moment was at the 1954 FIBA World Championship where he led the Philippines to win the bronze medal. As of 2020, Philippines is the first and only Asian country to win a medal in FIBA World Cup.
He translated his passion for the game of basketball by coaching future generation of Philippine basketball and leading team that won the gold medal in 1967 ABC Championship (now known as the FIBA Asia Championship). He also coached for the collegiate and professional teams like YCO Painters, Manila Bank Golden Bankers, and UST Glowing Goldies (now Growling Tigers).
His #14 jersey was retired officially by San Beda College during the opening ceremonies of the NCAA Season 92 basketball tournament on June 25, 2016 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Achievements and Awards:
- 1951 NCAA Basketball Champions (San Beda College)
- 1952 NCAA Basketball Champions (San Beda College)
- 1955 NCAA Basketball Champions/Zamora Cup Retirement (San Beda College)
- 1954 National Basketball Champions (YCO Painters)
- 1955 National Basketball Champions (YCO Painters)
- 1956 National Basketball Champions (YCO Painters)
- 1957 National Basketball Champions (YCO Painters)
- 1958 National Basketball Champions (YCO Painters)
- 1959 National Basketball Champions (YCO Painters)
- 1960 National Basketball Champions (YCO Painters)
- 1964 MICAA Champions (YCO Painters)
Philippine Men’s Basketball Team
- 1951 Asian Games champions
- 1952 Olympic Games, ninth place
- 1954 Asian Games champions
- 1954 FIBA World Championship bronze medalist
- FIBA World Championship All-Star Mythical Five (1954)
- 1956 Olympic Games, seventh place
- 1958 Asian Games champions
- 1959 FIBA World Championship, eighth place
- 1960 FIBA Asia Championship champions
- FIBA Asia Championship All-Star Mythical Five (1960)
- 1962 Asian Games champions
- 1963 FIBA Asia Championship champions
As Head Coach of Philippine Men’s Basketball Team
- 1967 FIBA Asia champions
- 1968 Olympic Games, 13th place
It’s a wrap
Even though Caloy Loyzaga doesn’t appeared or played in the PBA, his basketball prowess in local and international competition was well respected by his peers. Caloy was once considered top 5 player in the world as he was named as part of mythical five of 1954 FIBA World Championship. His dominance in basketball at his time was well documented and no one can deny or argue that he is the greatest Filipino basketball player of all time as his achievements in basketball throughout his career was unbeatable at this point in history. Caloy took advantage of his opportunity to dominate basketball at that time when his height was never an issue to compete internationally (he was a 6’3 center). His passion for the game was second to none because of his contribution as a player and as a coach of the Philippine men’s basketball team. Carlos Loyzaga rightfully belongs as one of the legends of Philippine Sports History.