Host school San Beda ushered in the 92nd season of the NCAA with a fitting tribute to its greatest alumnus and, undoubtedly, the best Filipino basketball player of all time.
In a solemn ceremony on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena, Caloy Loyzaga’s jersey #14 was retired in honor of the late basketball great’s contributions to the sport.
Loyzaga passed away in January this year. He was 85.
The jersey retirement rites headed by NCAA Management Commitee Chair Jose Mari Lacson and San Beda’s Rector-President Rev. Fr. Aloysius Maranan and witnessed by Loyzaga’s family led by his son Chito, a former player himself.
“Our father cherished his years as a student athlete and he was deeply honored to represent San Beda,” Chito said.
Caloy, dubbed as “The Big Difference”, will be forever remembered as the greatest ever to don a San Beda jersey leading the Mendiola-based squad to back-to-back NCAA championship way back in 1951-1952.
“He loved his teammates as if they were his own family and also put his country above personal ambitions,” Chito added.
Caloy etched his name in the history books by leading the country to 2 gold medal finishes in the FIBA Asia Championship in 1960 and 1963 and added 4 more golds in the Asian Games in 1951,1954, 1958 and 1962.
But more than his dominance in Asia, he is best remembered for leading the country to its highest finish on the world stage, winning the bronze medal in the FIBA World Championships in 1954.
Caloy was even included in the mythical team and went up against the likes of NBA Greats Bill Russel, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and the rest of U.S Basketball superpowers.
And for his son Chito, this has to be more than enough to continue to inspire Filipino basketball players.
“We hope he will continue to inspire NCAA athletes,” Chito told the big opening crowd in attendance. – By Bryan John Ulanday