PHILIPPINE basketball legend Carlos ‘Caloy’ Loyzaga is staying in the country for good after suffering a massive stroke two years ago in Australia, where he has been based with his wife for a long time.
Chito Loyzaga, the son of the man they call 'The Big Difference,' said their family has convinced their dad to move back to the country because of his age and the effect of the stroke on his body.
“’Yung kalagayan niya dati sa Australia, marami siyang responsibilidad na pang-araw-araw na buhay. So sila ng nanay ko, umabot na sila sa punto na hindi na nila kaya na mag-isa," said Chito, himself a former PBA player and a member of the silver medal-winning 1990 Asian Games team.
“So napag-desisyunan naming magkakapatid na mas maigi na dito na lang sila manirahan,” Chito added.
Loyzaga, 82, is regarded as arguably the best Filipino basketball player of all time. He is still the only Asian player to make it to the Mythical Team of the world championships, having achieved the feat when he led the national team to a third-place finish in the 1954 world championships.
According to Chito, the stroke has taken its toll on the elder Loyzaga who now moves around in a wheelchair and is unable to speak. “Siyempre hindi na siya ganoon as mobile as before. Hindi na rin siya nakakapagsalita,” he said.
But that has not prevented him from doing what he likes best - watch basketball.
On Saturday, Caloy and his son were in the audience during the opening of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup to watch their alma mater, San Beda, play defending champion National University.
Chito said he is making an effort to have his father watch as many sports events as possible now that he's back in the country. Last week, father and son were seen watching a Shakey’s V-League game live.
“Eto kasi ‘yung alam natin eh — sports. Kaya linilibang ko siya para makita niya ‘yung sports ngayon kasi iba na ‘yung panahon natin,” said Loyzaga.
The younger Loyzaga said that his father is having a grand time.
“Natutuwa siya na marami siyang nakikitang mga kaibigan,” Loyzaga said.
Loyzaga was seen clapping his hands and nodding in approval after a basket by San Beda, which recently launched a book honoring the greatest player to don the school's red-and-white uniform.
“Siyempre andoon pa rin ‘yung puso niya sa eskwela niya lalong lalo na ngayon na gumawa pa sila ng paraan para gawan siya ng libro. So all out support siya sa school niya,” said Chito.
The cage icon even stayed around to watch one more game between De La Salle and University of Santo Tomas.
Though he couldn’t speak anymore, Chito shared his dad's mind remains as sharp as ever. During the San Beda-NU game, Chito said his father made an observation about the game by rotating his hands.
“Ang ibig niyang sabihin, masyado silang takbo ng takbo (ang mga players). Para daw maraming wasted motion at walang purpose ‘yung mga galaw,” said Loyzaga.
Chito said his dad plans to watch more college games in the future - preferably games of the Red Lions.
“Gusto nga niya manood ng mga ibang darating na laro ng San Beda. Kung mamarapatin nga, pati ‘yung NCAA at saka UAAP mapanood niya,” said Loyzaga, who incidentally is being eyed as the next commissioner of the UAAP.