Basketball not Caloy’s 1st love
HINDI ito alam ng karamihan pero hindi naman talaga basketball ang first love ng Carlos (Caloy) Loyzaga, ang sinasabing The Gr e a t e s t Player in Philippine Basketball.
At hindi rin San Beda College ang original choice niya sa kolehiyo.
According to the 2004 book “Legends and Heroes of Philippine Basketball” authored by Christian Bocobo and Beth Celis, Loyzaga’s first sport was soccer (or football).
Like his dad Joaquin Sr., who was a member of the national football team to the Far Eastern Games (the forerunner of the Asian Games), Caloy owned a collection of medals he won as a footballer.
A multi-sport athlete, Loyzaga also dubbed in playground basketball in his hometown in San Jose, Mindoro Oriental as a youngster before migrating to Manila.
Barely 12 years old, Caloy hooked up with the star-laden Sta. Mesa Aces in 1942. Loyzaga matriculated at the Padre Burgos Elementary School in Sta. Mesa.
In 1948, he transferred to the National University for his high school education. Loyzaga eventually landed at San Beda College in 1950 but not before considering other schools.
According to various reports, Loyzaga wanted to enroll at Colegio de San Juan de Letran but backed out at the eleventh hour when then-Knights coach Angel de Leon allegedly gave him a cold treatment.
Additionally, Loyzaga was set to enrol at University of Santo Tomas. But before he could don the Glowing Goldies jersey, though, former Olympic player and coach Felicisimo (Fely) Fajardo, San Beda’s head coach at the time, spotted Caloy and brought him to the Mendiola campus where he was to polish his multi-dimensional skills.
To be fair to all, Letran was a veritable option for Loyzaga.
In 1950, the Knights, behind the legendary “Murder, Inc.” unit led by league Most Valuable Player Lauro (The Fox) Mumar, Herminio Astorga (who later became the Vice-Mayor of Manila) and Luis Tabuena (who later became the Games and Amusements Board chairman and the general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority during the Marcos era), went on to grab the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) crown.
That season, Letran scored nine straight victories during the sixteam, double-round competitions.
Only San Beda stood the way for a 10-game season sweep and an outright championship by the Muralla-based school.
The Knights, however, were deprived of an undefeated season when they bowed to the Red Lions, 56-51, in their 10th assignment.
In a playoff, Letran exacted revenge with a 66-55 thrashing of the Bedans to secure the second NCAA title in school history.
Loyzaga was unable to see action for SBC during the 1950 NCAA campaign due to residence eligibility problems. This came about after he had played in the 1948 National Secondary Championship with the National University Bullpups.
Loyzaga instead spent the year helping guide the PRATRA All-Stars past Terminal (the 1949 Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association champion) for both the National Open and MICAA titles. With Loyzaga’s NCAA debut in 1951, the Red Lions of San Beda came back with a vengeance.
Find out Loyzaga’s NCAA exploits in our next column.