Carlos Loyzaga (born August 29, 1930 in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro) is a former Filipino basketball player. He is considered by many to be the greatest Filipino basketball player of all time and will go down in basketball history as the “Big/Great Difference” of Philippine basketball. He had the natural ability to turn what seemed to be an impending defeat to victory, thus earning for himself the monicker: The Big Difference, a sobriquet made popular by the incomparable sportscaster Willie Hernandez, now deceased. He led the Philippine National team to a Bronze Medal finish in the 1954 FIBA World Championship and was named to the Mythical Team of that tournament. As of the end of 2006, this 3rd place finish remains as the highest finish of any Asian team in the history of the tournament.
Loyzaga, more popularly known as "Caloy", was born to a Basque family and attended San Beda College, where he played for the Philippine NCAA Red Lions basketball team. At 1.91 m (6’3”), he towered over most other players in the league and came to be a dominating player at the center position. Because of his shooting and rebounding prowess he quickly became a superstar. He led the Red Lions to back to back NCAA championships during his stint.
Then a gangling cager, Loyzaga launched his colorful cage career in 1942 as a virtual unknown, playing for the Sta. Mesa Aces whose roster included the Cuna brothers, Pablo and Vicente; Ramon Lopez, chair of the Letran Hall of Fame; Vicente Siyllon, who became president of Insular Life; and brothers Bobby and Al Tuazon. Their coach was Jose Pepe Lansang, who later made a name for himself as a referee.
After the Liberation of Manila, Loyzaga played for a team called Bulldogs which was coached by Joker Faustino. He studied at the P. Burgos Elementary School in Sta. Mesa and National University for his high school.
Loyzaga was about to enroll at UST for his college education but before he could wear the UST jersey, noted player and coach Felicisimo Fajardo, also a Hall of Famer, took him to San Beda where Fely polished his playing style. Loyzaga had wanted earlier to play for Letran but backed off when the coach gave him the cold treatment.
Loyzaga honed his skills at the Tervalac playground in Sta. Mesa before making waves in the NCAA, then the country's most colorful and glamorous league, as a member of the fabled San Beda Red Lions in the 1950s.
He also played for the multi-titled Pratra, then coached by Gabriel Gabby Fajardo, Fely's brother and a fellow Hall of Famer. Pratra won the MICAA crown in 1951.
He played college basketball for the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA before leading the Yco Painters to 49 consecutive victories in the now-defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) from 1954 to 1956.
Loyzaga, a two-time Olympian, was a many time member of the Philippine national basketball team in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. He steered the national team into becoming one of the best in the world, winning four consecutive Asian Games gold medals and two consecutive FIBA Asia Championships.
Loyzaga’s finest moment was the 1954 FIBA World Championship where he led the Philippines to a third place finish and captured the bronze medal in the process. It is the best finish by an Asian country and the Philippines have remained the only Asian medalists in the said tournament to date.
Loyzaga finished as the tournament’s third best leading scorer and was named in the tournament's All-Star Mythical Five selection. He retired in 1964 following a distinguished 15-year career.
- 1951 NCAA Basketball Champions
- 1952 NCAA Basketball Champions
- 1954 National Basketball Champions
- 1955 National Basketball Champions
- 1956 National Basketball Champions
- 1957 National Basketball Champions
- 1958 National Basketball Champions
- 1959 National Basketball Champions
- 1960 National Basketball Champions
- 1964 MICAA Champions
International career highlights
- 1951 Asian Games champions
- 1952 Olympic Games, ninth place
- 1954 Asian Games champions
- 1954 FIBA World Championship bronze medalist
- FIBA World All-Star Mythical Five member (1954)
- 1956 Olympic Games, seventh place
- 1958 Asian Games champions
- 1959 FIBA World Championship, eighth place
- 1960 FIBA Asia Championship champions
- 1962 Asian Games champions
- 1963 FIBA Asia Championship champions
- 1967 FIBA Asia Championship champions, head coach
- 1968 Olympic Games, 13th place, head coach
- Philippine National Basketball Hall of Fame (1999)
- Philippine Sportswriter Association Athletes of the 20th Century award (2000)
- Bocobo, Christian and Celis, Beth, Legends and Heroes of Philippine Basketball, (Philippines, 2004)
- Dela Cruz, Juan, Book of Pinoy Facts and Records, (National Bookstore, Mandaluyong City, Philippines, 2004)