Carlos ‘Caloy’ Loyzaga’ journey to PH basketball greatness

How huge was multi-dimensional Carlos (Caloy) Loyzaga, who will be inducted posthumously into the FIBA Hall of Fame next month, during his commercial-club years following his illustrious San Beda College (now University) stint?

In 1950, Caloy powered the PRATRA (Philippine Relief and Trade Rehabilitation Administration) All-Stars past Terminal (the 1949 MICAA titlist) for the title in the National Open (later known as National Senior basketball tournament) as well as the MICAA diadem.

The 6-3 do-it-all was unable to see action with the San Beda Red Lions during the 1950 NCAA campaign due to residence ineligibility. That’s because Loyzaga had played in the 1948 National Secondary Championship with the National University Bullpups.

Loyzaga finally joined the Red Lions den in 1951. He bannered the San Beda outfit that grabbed the NCAA championships in 1951 and 1952 as well as the 1952 National Open crown, which was then the biggest plum in local hoopdom as the most prominent schools commercial clubs in the country joined the tournament.

In 1953, just before joining the Yco Athletic Club, the San Jose, Mindoro Oriental native also was a member of the PRISCO (Price Stabilization Corportion) squad – the successor of PRATRA) – that copped the National Open diadem.

In 1954, Caloy led the Yco Redshirts/Painters to the first-ever” grandslam” in Philippine basketball history as the Don Manolo Elizalde-owned club bagged the National Open, MICAA and Challenge to Champion crowns.

History repeated itself three years later. In 1957, Yco once again made a clean sweep of the country’s most prestigious tournaments – National Open, MICAA and Challenge to Champion – thanks anew to Caloy’s brilliant performance.

Loyzaga propelled Yco to a record seven consecutive National Open titles from 1954-60 and a 49-game winning streak over a three-year period from 1954-56.

In sum, Loyzaga won 10 National Open titles.

In 1964, at the age of 34, King Caloy hung up his jersey after 15 fruitful years in the majors as injuries, including a recurring knee ailment, had become increasingly painful to bear.

His alma mater San Beda College and his traditional-steeped commercial club Yco Athletic Club – the two teams closest to Carlos Loyzaga’s heart – once played each other in the prestigious National Open tournament (later known as National Senior basketball tournament).

After powering the Red Lions to the consecutive NCAA titles in 1951 and 1952, in the process winning the MVP hardware each time, the multi-faceted 6-3 Loyzaga also propelled the Mendiola-based school to the National Open finals in 1952 against (future ballclub) Yco Athletic Club.

The bull-strong Loyzaga’s dominant efforts at the collegiate level can be gleaned from one newspaper report (dated January 16, 1953) that stated the following: “Carlos (Pomfret) Loyzaga stepped once more into his familiar role of San Beda’s big hero when he single-handedly beat the star-studded Yco Redshirts, 29-28, in the (1952) National Open tournament with a glittering 17-pint overall performance.”

Played before a crowd of 8,000 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, the championship game, which the then-reigning NCAA titlist won on a free throw by Loyzaga in the final five seconds, actually mirrored Caloy’s entire cage life.

Issuing slick passes, making pivot shots and barreling his way into the shaded lane were Loyzaga’s signature moves.

Thanks to his outstanding performance for the year, the influential Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) bestowed the title “Mr. Basketball of 1952” on Loyzaga.

Henry Liao
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