He is to international basketball what Pele is to world soccer.
Significantly, both legendary athletes are natives of Brazil.
His name: *Oscar Schmidt, the all-time leading scorer in Olympic menís basketball history.
A 6-8 forward, Schmidt collected 1,094 points in 38 Olympic games. *In a record-sharing five Olympic appearances Ė 1980 Moscow (Soviet Union), 1984 Los Angeles (USA), 1988 Seoul South Korea), 1992 Barcelona (Spain) and 1996 Atlanta (USA) Ė he averaged an eye-popping 28.8 points every time out.
Schmidt, who twice visited Manila during Brazilian club Emtexís guest participation in the Philippine Basketball Association in 1977 and in his national teamís stint in the 1978 World Basketball Championship (now known as the FIBA World Cup), was the No. 1 scorer in three Olympic Games Ė 42.3 ppg in 1988, 24.8 ppg in 1992 and 27.4 ppg in 1996.
Until now, Schmidt, the son of a German father and a Brazilian-Yugoslav mother, still owns the all-time single-game Olympic scoring mark of 55 points, which he set in Brazilís 118-110 loss to Spain in 1988.
Australiaís Andrew Gaze ranks second on the all-time Olympic scoring list with 789 points in an Olympic-record 40 games and record-tying five stints.
A member of the Aussiesí Olympic unit in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000, the 6-7 Gaze was the top point-producer during the 2000 Sydney Games with a 19.9-point average in eight appearances.
Gaze, who played collegiate ball at Seton Hall University, played two seasons in the National Basketball Association (1993-94 Washington and 1998-99 San Antonio).
Aside from Schmidt and Gaze, the only other menís basketball athlete to suit up in five Olympics is Puerto Ricoís Teofilo Cruz, who made his debut in Rome in 1960 then donned the national colors once again in 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976.
Did you know that the Philippines is the first team to score at least 100 points in a single game in Olympic menís basketball history?
During the 1948 London Olympics, the Filipinos registered a 102-30 victory over Iraq in their opening assignment in Group B of the four-group, preliminary-round competitions.
While Chile (100-18), Korea (120-20) and China (125-15, then represented by the Nationalist Republic of China or now called Taiwan) subsequently also reached the 100-point plateau against winless Iraq (0-5) in the same six-nation group, the rub of the schedule gave the Philippines the distinction of being the first team ever to score 100 points or more in Olympic menís basketball annals.
Note also that not a single entry in Group A (six teams), C (six teams, including the United States) and D (five teams) was able to hit the century mark at any time during the elimination-round phase.
In fact, there were no other 100-point team performances during the competition.
The U.S. bamboozled France, 65-21, to secure the gold medal. *Brazil whipped Mexico, 52-47, to settle for the bronze.
Korea was the highest-ranking Asian squad during the London Games at eighth place.
The Philippines, which was coached by Dionisio (Chito) Calvo and bannered by team skipper Felicisimo (Fely) Fajardo, his brother Gabriel (Gabby) Fajardo, Lauro (The Fox) Mumar, Manuel Araneta Jr. and Ramoncito Campos, ranked 12th.
China placed 18th among a record-setting 23 participants.
Not known to many, menís basketball was played in the Summer Olympics long before the sport became an official medal-winning event during the 1936 Berlin Games.
At the 1904 St. Louis (USA) Olympics, an exhibition tournament was staged with five American teams in competition. *The Buffalo German YMCA club topped the event following a 39-28 decision over the Chicago Central YMCA squad.
Another exhibition, an eight-team tournament, was held at the 1924 Paris (France) Olympics.
The great moment for basketball arrived officially during the 1936 Berlin Games, following the establishment of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) in 1932 and its recognition as the official body of the game by the International Olympic Committee.
Ironically, basketball made its debut in Berlin as an outdoor sport (and not indoor as generally considered). *It was staged on tennis courts of clay and sand.
A total of 21 countries from four of the five continents (with the exception of Oceania) participated in the quadrennial showcase.
Spain would have been the 22nd nation to see action but it withdrew from the entire Olympiad at the last minute on account of the outbreak of civil war.
The United States thus gained its first Olympic victory with a default win over the Spaniards.
The first game actually played by the 14-man U.S. squad was against Estonia. *The Americans handily defeated the Baltic state, 52-28 (26-7 at halftime) despite 21 points by Georges Vinogradov, whose sole job with Estonia was to shoot and shoot as he never went back to help out on the defensive end.
Following victories over the Philippines (56-23/28-20) and Mexico (25-10/13-2), the U.S. earned its first-ever Olympic menís basketball gold on August 14, 1936 with an easy 19-8 (15-4) decision over Canada in the championship game.
The gold-medal encounter was marred by heavy rains and was entirely of fumbles and interceptions as players found it difficult to dribble on a court that had turned into mud.
The Summer Olympics were canceled in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II. *
In 1948, the quadrennial games resumed action.
That year, a record-setting 23 countries took part in menís basketball during the London Olympics. *The U.S. again grabbed the gold medal with a perfect 8-0 win-loss record. *Its closest game came in a preliminary-round contest against Argentina. *The Argentines, who would eventually finish only 15th overall, lost by just two points, 59-57, after leading by seven, 33-26, at halftime.
The Americans went on to win the Olympic menís basketball gold again in 1952 (Helsinki, Finland), 1956 (Melbourne, Australia), 1960 (Rome, Italy) and 1964 (Tokyo, Japan) before dropping a disputed 51-50 decision to the Soviet Union during the finals of the 1972 Munich Games that shattered their 63-game winning streak.
Did you know that the Philippines has captured nine Olympic medals since the country first joined the prestigious quadrennial Summer Games in 1924 in Amsterdam, Netherlands?
All of them, however, were either silver or bronze medals.
With Mongolia having secured its first gold during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Philippines now holds the record for the most number of Olympic medals without a gold.
Four years ago, the country was represented by 15 athletes that competed in 17 events across eight sports.
Though several national records were broken in the swimming and weightlifting events, the Filipinos failed to secure a single medal for the third straight Olympiad.
Worse, all of our athletes did not survive past their preliminary-round assignments.
Overall, the Philippines has won two silvers and seven bronzes in Olympic history. *Of the nine medals, five have come from the sport of boxing.
The Olympic boxing medalists are: *1-Jose Villanueva (bronze, bantamweight division, 1932 Los Angeles), 2-Anthony Villanueva (silver, featherweight, 1964 Tokyo Ė he is a son of Jose Villanueva), 3-Leopoldo Serrantes (bronze, light flyweight, 1988 Seoul), 4-Roel Velasco (bronze, light flyweight, 1992 Barcelona) and 5-Mansueto (Onyok) Velasco (silver, light flyweight, 1996 Atlanta Ė he is the younger brother of Roel Velasco).
Other Filipinos who romped away with medals in the Summer Olympics are two-time winner Teofilo Yldefonso (bronze, menís 200-meter breaststroke, swimming, 1928 Amsterdam, Netherlands; and bronze, menís 200-meter breaststroke, 1932 Los Angeles, USA); Simeon Toribio (bronze, menís high jump, athletics, 1932 Los Angeles, USA); and Miguel White (bronze, menís 400-meter hurdles, athletics, 1936 Berlin, Germany).
Roel Velasco is now the national team boxing coach, essaying the game plan of light flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga in the ongoing London Olympiad.
A native of Davao del Norte, the 19-year-old Barriga earned an Olympic berth via the backdoor when his quarterfinal (final eight) opponent from China, Zou Shiming, eventually captured the gold medal in his division during the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Azerbaijan last September.
Competition rules stated that the top 10 boxers from each division Ė the eight quarterfinal winners plus the two quarterfinal losers that were beaten by the eventual gold and silver medalists Ė would secure Olympic slots.
Zou, a bronze medalist during the 2004 Athens Olympics and the gold medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is the prime favorite to once again snare the gold in the light flyweight division of the Olympic boxing competitions in London.
Barriga, whose first-round Olympic bout took place late last night (Manila time), is one of 11 Filipino athletes that are seeing action in the 30th London Olympics.
The others are Rene Herrera and Marestella Torres of athletics, Jessie King Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi of swimming, Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, Mark Javier and Rachel Anne Cabral-dela Cruz of archery, Brian Rosario of shooting, Filipino-Japanese Tomohiko Hoshina of judo, and Filipino-American Danny Caluag of BMX cycling.
God bless our Magnificent Eleven.
Menís basketball in the 30th London Olympics opens hostilities on July 30(Manila time) with a maximum six-game schedule.
The 12 participating countries have been divided into two groups of six each.
In Group A are Argentina, France, Lithuania, Nigeria, Tunisia and the defending gold medalist United States.
In Group B are Australia, Brazil, Peopleís Republic of China, Great Britain, Russia and Spain.
Spain (EuroBasket), Argentina (Tournament of the Americas), Australia (Oceania), China (Asia) and Tunisia (Africa) emerged victorious in the FIBA qualifying tournaments in their respective zones to earn slots in the London Olympics.
The United States, whose roster is again dominated by NBA stars (only University of Kentuckyís Anthony Davis, who was picked by the New Orleans Hornets with the first overall selection in last Juneís NBA draft, has had no pro experience and was an 11th-hour replacement for the injured Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers) was an automatic qualifier due to its status as the reigning titlist in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball competitions Ė formerly known as the FIBA World Basketball Championship Ė and not because the Americans are the defending Olympic gold medalists.
Despite not qualifying from the European zone, Great Britain was allowed to compete by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) due to its status as the host of the quadrennial multi-sports spectacle.
France and Brazil secured Olympic berths after ranking second in the EuroBasket and Tournament of the Americas, respectively.
Russia, Lithuania and surprising Nigeria made it as the three wildcard winners from the Olympic qualifying tournament held in Caracas, Venezuela in the first week of July.
Out of the 12 entries in Olympic menís basketball, five are from Europe (Spain, France, Russia, Lithuania and Great Britain). The Americas have three representatives (United States, Argentina and Brazil) and Africa (Tunisia and Nigeria) has a pair. Oceania (Australia) and Asia (China) each only have a single entry.
The Olympic menís basketball event will utilize the same format as before.
Each team will play five games in their respective groups during the elimination phase with a ďrestĒ day after every play-date. The top four teams from each preliminary-round group will advance to the crucial quarterfinals that have a single-game knockout format. The four games Ė A1 vs. B4, A2 vs. B3, B2 vs. A3, and B1 vs. A4 Ė will be held on August 9 (Manila time).
The semifinals, which involve the quarterfinal winners, will be played on August 11 (early morning in Manila). The matchups: The winner of B2 vs. A3 takes on the winner of A1 vs. B4, while the winner of A2 vs. B3 faces the winner of B1 vs. A4.
The gold- and bronze-medal contest will be held on August 12 (night time in Manila).
The July 30 games feature Nigeria vs. Tunisia, United States vs. France and Argentina vs. Lithuania in Group A, and Brazil vs. Australia, Spain vs. China and Russia vs. Great Britain in Group B.
The games on August 1 (Manila time) are: Lithuania vs. Nigeria, France vs. Argentina, Tunisia vs. the U.S., China vs. Russia, Australia vs. Spain, and Great Britain vs. Brazil.
The six-game bill on August 3 (MT) features France vs. Lithuania, Argentina vs. Tunisia, the U.S. vs. Nigeria, Australia vs. China, Brazil vs. Russia, and Spain vs. Gfeat Britain.
On August 5 (MT), the games will be Tunisia vs. France, Lithuania vs. the U.S., Nigeria vs. Argentina, Russia vs. Spain, China vs. Brazil, and Great Britain vs. Australia.
In the final playdate of the elimination round on August 7 (MT), it will be Tunisia vs. Lithuania, France vs. Nigeria, Argentina vs. the U.S., Australia vs. Russia, Great Britain vs. China, and Spain vs. Brazil.
From where this Hoopster sits, he sees the U.S., Argentina, France and Lithuania advancing to the quarterfinals out of Group A and Spain, Brazil, Russia and Australia (or China) out of Group B.
Four years ago in Beijing, China, the Americans registered an 8-0 record with a 118-107 victory over Spain in the gold-medal match.
In the bronze-medal contest, Argentina defeated Lithuania, 87-75, to avenge its 79-75 loss to the Baltic State during the tournament opener for both teams.
The final rankings in the 2008 Olympic menís basketball competitions are as follows: 1-USA (8-0), 2-Spain (6-2), 3-Argentina (6-2), 4-Lithuania (5-3), 5-Greece (3-3), 6-Croatia (3-3), 7-Australia (3-3), 8-China (2-4), 9-Russia (1-4), 10-Germany (1-4), 11-Islamic Republic of Iran (0-5), and 12-Angola (0-5).