Caloy for FIBA Hall of Fame
(The Philippine Star) - May 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will be the lead host in a syndicate involving Japan and Indonesia to stage the 2023 FIBA World Cup. It would be a timely and appropriate honor if a Filipino could be enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame that year, particularly as the Philippines has been the bastion of basketball in Asia for over a century or since capturing the first Far Eastern Games gold medal in the sport in 1913. No Asian nation has finished higher than the Philippines in basketball in both the Olympics (fifth in 1936) and the FIBA World Cup (third in 1954). And Filipino hoop fans are known to be the most passionate in the world.

There have been eight inductions in the FIBA Hall of Fame, starting in 2007. The list is made up of 43 male players, 15 female players, 18 male coaches, five female coaches, 14 referees and 35 contributors (including administrators). Additionally, the 1992 US Olympic gold medal “dream” team and the eight national federations that were FIBA’s founding members in 1932 are honored in the Hall of Fame.

Only four Asians have been enshrined – Filipino Dionisio (Chito) Calvo, Japanese Yoshimi Ueda and South Korean Yoon Duk-joo in 2007 and Chinese Mou Zuoyun in 2019 (the year China hosted the FIBA World Cup). Calvo, who died in 1977 at the age of 74, coached the Philippines to fifth place at the 1936 Olympics and 12th at the 1948 Games. Under Calvo, the Philippines was the first country to score at least 100 points in an Olympic game, beating Iraq, 102-30 in London in 1948. Calvo, however, was recognized by FIBA not as a coach but as the initiator of the Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA Asia) in 1960, serving as its pioneer secretary-general. Ueda was a former FIBA Central Board member and Yoon once headed FIBA’s Women’s Commission. Mou is known as the “godfather” of Chinese basketball and was China’s coach at the 1952 Olympics. However, China never got to play in 1952 due to a political dispute. Mou was a former Chinese Basketball Association president and the league’s championship trophy is named after him. Curiously, Mou is in the FIBA Hall of Fame as a coach, not as an administrator. In the Hall of Fame, there are three Egyptians enshrined compared to only one Filipino and Egypt isn’t known for its love of the game.

Aside from the Hall of Fame, FIBA instituted what is called the FIBA Order of Merit, awarding individuals with significant contributions to basketball. Awards were given to 61 honorees in 13 rites from 1994 to 2010. Among the awardees were Filipinos Lito Puyat (in 1994 as a former two-time FIBA president) and Moying Martelino (in 1999 as former FIBA Asia secretary-general). But neither Puyat nor Martelino is a FIBA Hall of Famer.

The Filipino who deserves to be enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame is undoubtedly Caloy Loyzaga who was the FIBA World Cup’s second leading scorer when the Philippines took third place in Rio de Janeiro in 1954. “The Big Difference” was a two-time Olympian and played on the Philippine teams that won the gold medal in four Asian Games and two FIBA Asia Cups. At the height of his global popularity, Loyzaga was hailed by Spanish writer Fernando Font in the book “El Libro de Oro del Basket – 1923-85.” In the NCAA, King Caloy led San Beda to back-to-back championships and in the commercial leagues, powered YCO to 49 straight wins from 1954 to 1956 and seven straight titles from 1954 to 1961. It was no wonder that in 1954, Loyzaga was the only Asian named to the world’s mythical five selection in the FIBA World Cup sportswriters’ poll. He is widely considered the greatest Filipino basketball player ever. Loyzaga passed away in 2016 at the age of 85.

“I pray that FIBA gives him this significance,” said Loyzaga’s daughter Teresa. “My prayers are that this shall happen and that my father’s legacy will go on forever. He was proud of being Filipino and so much more, representing the Philippines to the world.”

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