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Henry Liao

CARLOS LOYZAGA: *GREATEST FILIPINO CAGER EVER, PART IV

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All-time basketball great Carlos Loyzaga was a dominant force even at the local commercial/post-graduate level.

A product of San Beda College, Loyzaga suited up for PRATRA and PRISCO that captured the National Open championship in 1950 and 1953, respectively.

In 1954, Loyzaga hooked up with the fabled Yco Athletic Club that played in the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) league, the predecessor of the professional Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Together with some of the game’s greatest names, the bull-strong and versatile 6-3, 200-pound center established records for the Painters which may never be duplicated in Philippine basketball history.

It was with Loyzaga that Yco put together 49 consecutive victories from 1954 to 1956.

In 1954, the Painters accomplished the first so-called Grand Slam in local hoops when they bagged the National Open, Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) and Challenge to Champion titles.

The annual National Open competitions featured all-comers, including top commercial clubs and prominent collegiate squads such as San Beda College, Ateneo de Manila, Far Eastern University, University of Santo Tomas, and Colegio de San Juan de Letran.

Yco collared a record seven straight National Open championships starting in 1954.

By April of 1960, Loyzaga had taken a dual role with the Painters as their playing coach. *In his first stint in a concurrent capacity, he piloted Yco to the MICAA crown against Ysmael Steel.

The Painters’ winning streak in the National Open was halted only in 1961 when their arch nemesis, the Ysmael Steel Admirals, rose to provide, together with Caloy’s team, what may be the greatest single rivalry in local basketball history (counting even the Ateneo vs. De La Salle and Crispa vs. Toyota rivalries).

Following a year’s stint with the Painters, Loyzaga returned to the collegiate hardwood in 1955 and helped the San Beda College Red Lions claim permanent possession of the prestigious three-legged Crispulo Zamora Cup with another National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title.

The Zamora Cup was the hardware awarded by the NCAA to the first team that captured three championships after the Second World War.

After 15 long, fruitful years in the major leagues, Loyzaga finally felt the ravages of time take their toll.

Injuries, including a recurring knee ailment, had become increasingly painful to bear.

In 1964, King Caloy hung up his jersey.

But even as he did, Loyzaga had left behind a legacy that may never be equalled in the whole of Asia.

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