Carlos “Big Difference” Loyzaga, the greatest basketball player produced by the Philippines at a time when the national team reigned as the best in Asia and challenged the world’s best athletes, was inducted as the first Filipino player in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame in simple ceremonies held ahead of the FIBA World Cup 2023 in Manila.
The historic recognition, an eternal symbol of Filipino pride and talent, is one more milestone in the illustrious career of the Filipino athlete who would have turned 93 years old yesterday, August 29, had he lived to attend the induction rites for the FIBA Hall of Fame Class of 2023 held August 23 in Manila. Caloy Loyzaga, who passed away in 2016, was represented by his wife and children.
Carlos Loyzaga joined 11 other global standouts for the Class of 2023 and over 122 outstanding players and coaches – including his own coach Dionisio Calvo – from 37 countries and all five continents enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame at the Patrick Baumann House of Basketball in Mies, Switzerland.
A Trailblazer in the Golden Age of Philippine Basketball
Standing at a towering 1.91 m (6ft 3in), Loyzaga wasn’t just a physical giant; he was a leviathan in the world of Asian basketball. It was the ‘50s and ‘60s—a golden epoch when the Philippines reigned supreme in Asian basketball. A monumental feat in Loyzaga’s sterling career was the 1954 FIBA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. FIBA reports indicate that he was “among the leading scorers at 16.4 points per game” – stats that catapulted him into the championship’s All-Star-Five Team. Notably, the Philippines clinched the bronze medal—still the highest honor an Asian team has ever achieved in FIBA World Cup history.
Conquering the Global Stage
Beyond the dazzling arena of the Asian Games which witnessed the Philippine team claiming four championship titles (1951, 1954, 1958, 1962) and two FIBA Asia Cup victories (1960 and 1963), Loyzaga’s talent unfurled on the Olympic stage. A standout moment was a 9th-place finish at the 1952 Helsinki Games and a remarkable 7th-place at the 1956 Melbourne Games.
For Love of Country, For Love of Flag
Perhaps what resonates most profoundly about Loyzaga is not just his skill on the court, but his unflagging patriotism. His son Chito, himself a Philippine basketball figure from the fabled Barangay Ginebra squad, captured it best in his acceptance speech. “For love of country, for the flag,” Chito said, delving into the legacy his father left behind. “My father said it doesn’t matter what name is written on the back of your jersey, what matters is the flag you represent on its front.”
— GoodNewsPilipinas.com (@GoodNewsPinas_) August 30, 2023
As we celebrate this monumental recognition, let us remember that Carlos Loyzaga’s love for basketball and the Philippines continues to inspire new generations. He is a figure who has not just carved his name in history but has imprinted his passion, resilience, and pride into the very soul of Filipino basketball. May his legacy endure, as vibrant as the flag he so cherished, and as enduring as the game he forever changed.
Carlos Loyzaga joins 11 other inductees in the Class of 2023 which include former NBA star Yao Ming of China, former Philippine team tormentor Sony Hendrawan of Indonesia, Yuko Oga of Japan, Penny Taylor of Australia, Katrina McClain of USA, Wlamir Marquies of Brazil, Angelo Monteiro dos Santos Victoriano of Angola, Zurab Sakandelidze of Georgia (posthumously), Valerie Garnier of France and Alessandro Gamba of Italy.
WATCH the induction rites here and feel the pride and the inspiration from a true Filipino basketball legend—Carlos ‘Big Difference’ Loyzaga. SHARE this captivating story with family and friends who need a dose of homegrown greatness.
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