Filipino basketball great Carlos "Caloy" Loyzaga passed away on Wednesday morning. He was 85 years old.
JUST IN: Pumanaw na ang tinaguriang "The Big Difference" na si Caloy Loyzaga. | via @glenjuego— DZBB Super Radyo (@dzbb) January 27, 2016
GMA News' Chino Trinidad also broke the news in his Facebook account, saying that Loyzaga, known as the "The Big Difference", died at 6:50 a.m.
His grandson, actor Diego Loyzaga, confirmed the news through an Instagram post this morning.
“A Philippine icon. Philippine basketball legend. My grandfather. You will be missed. I love you, lolo. RIP,” Diego said.
The young actor is a son of Teresa Loyzaga, one of the children of the Philippine basketball icon.
According to Jude Roque, team manager of the San Beda Red Lions basketball team, Loyzaga's remains would be taken for public viewing at the Arlington Memorial Chapels in Quezon City. Daily masses would be held at 7 p.m. Public viewing from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Loyzaga is considered as the greatest Filipino basketball player of all time after leading the national team to a bronze medal finish in the 1954 FIBA Asia Championship.
He is also the only Asian player to be included in the Mythical Team of the World Championships.
Loyzaga was a two-time Olympian - 1952 (9th place) and 1956 (7th place) as a member of the Philippines men's basketball team. He helped the Philippines become one of the best in the world at the time, winning four consecutive Asian Games gold medals (1951, 1954, 1958, 1962) and two consecutive FIBA Asia Championships (1960, 1963). His finest moment was at the 1954 FIBA World Championship where he led the Philippines to a Bronze finish. It was the best finish by an Asian country and the Philippines have remained the only Asian medalist in the tournament. He finished as one of the tournament’s leading scorer with a 16.4 points-per-game average and was named in the tournament's All-Star selection.
Loyzaga suffered a stroke in 2011 and had been confined on a wheelchair since.
Alpha Toledo, a staff nurse at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center who claims she was part of the medical team that attended to Loyzaga, narrated the basketball star's final moments
"It was a privilege and honor to be part of the team who took care of the Philippine Basketball Legend Carlos Loyzaga until his last breath this morning. Like the rest of my colleagues, I was teary-eyed seeing the family members of this icon grieving and heartbroken while we were reviving him. May your soul rest in peace in heaven Lolo," she said.
Isabel Cuerva, a relative of Loyzaga's wife, Vicky, remember him not as a basketball star but as a family man.
Charlie Favis, team manager of the disbanded Shell team in the Philippine Basketball Association and a former commissioner of the defunct Philippine Basketball League, said Loyzaga was "very accommodating" each time the PBA squad would go to Australia to play exhibition games.
"We always had very good conversation about basketball," he said.
Former senator Rene Saguisag retraced Loyzaga's roots in a 2012 article.
"Born in Mindoro, Caloy first attracted notice in Manila as a comer in Tervalac (from Teresa-Valenzuela) which we would pass through daily going to San Beda from Pasig and back, passing Santa Mesa, by bus (Halili or Mandbusco). There was the well-known Tervalac basketball court where Caloy was an icon, a distinction that spread throughout the country and Asia and beyond.
"He stood at 6-foot-3 at a time when some centers would not even be six-footers. He was not the only 6-foot-3 guy then but he stood out because of his high BQ — basketball quotient. He used his gift, his talent, to the utmost, as the Bible mandates," Saguisag wrote.
Messages of sympathies and posts extolling Loyzaga's legacy in Philippine basketball poured on Facebook within the hour since his passing was announced.
—with a report from Bianca Rose Dabu/ALG/APG, GMA News