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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Farewell to a Legend: Carlos Loyzaga

Just when we're celebrating the chance to host the biggest international basketball event in the Philippines since the 1978 FIBA World Championship, we found out today the passing of the greatest Filipino basketball player of all time.

Carlos Loyzaga was not only the "Big Difference" for the numerous Philippine national teams that he was part of but he was the Big Difference of Philippine Basketball. He led the Philippines to four consecutive gold medal finished in the Asian Games and four Asian Championship titles (one as head coach in 1967 and another as an assistant coach in 1973). He was basically involved to all, but one (1986), of the Asian Championship titles that the country has ever won since the inaugural 1960 tournament.

The two-time Olympian will be mostly remembered as the player that lead the Philippines to bronze medal finished in the 1954 FIBA World Championship. He finished the tournament as the third leading scorer and the distinction of being the only Filipino player ever to be named in the all-tournament World Mythical Five selection.

The moment he stepped away from national team duty (the last one being one of the assistant coaches of 1973 Asian champions); the Philippines struggled to complete in international basketball. It doesn’t help that commercial greed was on the rise at that time when the love of money became more important than the love of the game... Oops! Let me re-phrase that... I mean it was two years away from the birth of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)... that's what I meant... wink wink...

Anyway, enough politics, the Philippines struggled in the Post-Loyzaga Era (or the Professional Era) winning the Asian Championship only once in 1986 and did not win another medal until seventeen years later when the Philippines hosted the 2013 edition while in the Asian Games only managed to win a silver and a couple of bronzes.

Team Achievements:
- 1951 Asian Games basketball gold medallist
- 1952 Olympic Games, 9th place
- 1954 Asian Games basketball gold medallist
- 1954 FIBA World Championship bronze medallist
- 1956 Olympic Games, 7th place
- 1958 Asian Games basketball gold medallist
- 1959 FIBA World Championship, 8th place
- 1960 Asian Basketball Confederation champions
- 1962 Asian Games basketball gold medallist
- 1963 Asian Basketball Confederation champions
- 1967 Asian Basketball Confederation champions (as head coach)
- 1968 Olympic Games, 13th place  (as head coach)
- 1973 Asian Basketball Confederation champions (as assistant coach)

Individual Honors:
- 1954 FIBA World Championship Mythical Five Award
- 1960 Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Championship Mythical Five Award
- Philippine National Basketball Hall of Fame  (1999)
- Philippine Sportswriter Association Athletes of the 20th Century award (2000)
- Philippine Sportswriter Association Lifetime Achievement Award  (2013)

Artwork credits: Michael Canja/Posted by Mr. Chino Trinidad



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