Why leave out King Caloy?

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 13, 2021 - 12:00am

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) recently announced the inductees making up the 2020 and 2021 classes of its Hall of Fame. The 2020 batch lists nine players, including Park Shin Ja of Korea and Kenichi Sato of Japan, and three coaches while the 2021 group is also composed of nine players, including Haixia Zheng of China and Oscar Moglia of Uruguay, and three coaches. The enshrinement ceremonies will be held on June 18.

Of the 158 inductees named in 11 batches since 2007, there are only seven Asians. They are Chito Calvo of the Philippines, Yoshimi Ueda of Japan and Yoon Duk Joo of Korea as contributors, Mou Zuoyun of China as coach and Sako, Park and Haixia as players. Calvo coached the Philippine basketball team to fifth place at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the highest ever by an Asian team in the Summer Games, but was cited because of his years of service as member of the FIBA Technical Commission and organizer of the Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA Asia). Ueda was a member of the FIBA Central Board in 1959-89 while Yoon was the president of the ABC Women’s Commission in 1986-96. Mou was coach of the Chinese team at the 1952 Olympics but the squad arrived late in Helsinki and never played. The former president of the Chinese Basketball Association was a Lifetime Honorary Committee member of FIBA but never made an impact as a coach in international basketball, making his recognition questionable. Mou died in 2007 at 94.

Haixi, 54, was on the Chinese women’s team that took the bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics, silver at the 1992 Olympics and gold at the Asian Games in 1986. The 6-8 center also played for Los Angeles in the WNBA. Park, 79, was MVP at the 1967 FIBA Women’s World Cup where South Korea placed second and for 12 years, was considered Asia’s top women’s player. Sako, 50, played from 1993 to 2011 in the Japanese league where he was a three-time MVP and seven-time champion. He was on the Japanese team that claimed the bronze at the 1994 Asian Games. While Haixi and Park deserve their recognition, Sako’s credentials lack substance. Surely, Caloy Loyzaga and Robert Jaworski deserve to be FIBA Hall of Famers before even Sako can be considered. Loyzaga, a two-time Olympian, won four Asian Games and two FIBA Asia titles while Jaworski took two FIBA Asia golds, played in the 1968 Olympics and holds the record as the oldest pro player ever, retiring in 1997 at 50. How Sako could be a FIBA Hall of Famer before Loyzaga or Jaworski is beyond comprehension.

Curiously, Moglia was honored in the 2021 class. At the 1954 FIBA World Cup, Loyzaga outscored Mogilia, 31-9, in their personal duel as the Philippines beat Uruguay, 67-63. That was when the Philippines bagged the bronze medal with Loyzaga emerging the tournament’s second leading scorer in terms of total points with 148 points. Canada’s Carl Ridd was No. 1 with 164 and Moglia, No. 3 with 146. No doubt, Moglia deserves to be enshrined as he was the 1956 Olympics top pointmaker with Uruguay snagging the bronze. But surely, Loyzaga preceded his exploits in 1954 and should’ve been considered by FIBA before Moglia.

If FIBA isn’t aware of the exploits of Filipino players or coaches in the international game, the SBP should open its eyes to acknowledge the achievements of Loyzaga, Jaworski, Herr Silva, Leo Prieto and Baby Dalupan. It’s difficult to understand how FIBA has not named a single Filipino player or coach to its Hall of Fame when basketball is like a religion in the Philippines.

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