Bowling, billiards, boxing and basketball are the four big Bs of Philippine sports. These four sports events have rewarded the country richly and produced world champions like Paeng, Coo, Bata, Django, Amang, Flash, Pancho, Onyok, and Caloy.
In a 1999 survey, local poll firm Social Weather Stations claimed that the most popular sports in the Philippines were basketball (72 percent), boxing (55 percent), billiards (37 percent) and bowling (15 percent).
Bowling, one of the four big Bs of Philippine sports is no doubt a field where Filipinos have excelled in. Two Filipinos have been included in the 1993 inaugural International Bowling Hall of Fame, namely: Paeng Nepomuceno and Bong Coo. Bowling has also produced an Olympic gold medal and six Asiad gold medals for the Philippines. Too bad, bowling was just a demonstration sports when Arianne Cerdena won a gold in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Nevertheless, Filipinos have already etched their names on top of more than 100 million bowlers worldwide.
Rafael "Paeng" Nepomuceno
Paeng owns the following distinctions: "Greatest Filipino Athlete of All Time", "Athlete of the Century", and "International Bowling Athlete of the Millennium." He has won the World Cup in bowling four times in three decades. He could even win his fifth in fourth decade.
He won his first World Cup in Tehran, Iran on November 19, 1976 when he was only 19 years old; his second World Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 1, 1980; his third World Cup in Le Mans, France on November 8, 1992; and his fourth World Cup in Belfast, Northern Ireland on November 23, 1996.
Paeng also won two equally prestigious international titles, namely: the International Tournament championship in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 8, 1984 and the World Tenpin Masters championship in London, England on March 7, 1999. On October 4, 2002, Paeng won a gold medal together with RJ Bautista in bowling's double event for men at the Asian Games held in Pusan, South Korea. All in all, Paeng has won over 100 tournament titles.
He is the only bowler who had received the prestigious International Olympic Committee (IOC) President's Trophy and was the first enshrined in the International Bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri in 1993. In November 1999, the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) named Paeng as the "International Bowling Athlete of the Millennium."
In a ceremony held in Dubai, United Arab Ermirates, an FIQ official cited Paeng with these words: "No international bowling athlete is more deserving of recognition than Paeng. In addition to his long list of well-known achievements as a world champion in three decades, Paeng truly has been and continues to be an extraordinary ambassador for our sport. I congratulate Paeng for receiving the highest award possible from the IOC. Being the first time an IOC recognition has been given to a bowling athlete, I can only say: On behalf of 100 million bowlers in the world, I salute Paeng Nepomuceno as the international bowling athlete of the millennium."
Paeng, who is still an active player, was born in Manila on January 30, 1957. Truly, Paeng is a world champion and we are proud to say that Paeng is a Filipino!
Like Paeng Nepomuceno, Bong Coo dubbed as "Asia's Bowling Queen" was enshrined in the World Bowling Hall of Fame in 1993. She is the most awarded female Filipino athlete in history, having won 107 national and international titles including two world titles, one World Cup and five Asiad gold medals. She set three world records in consecutive FIQ World Championships in 1979 and 1983 and one world record in 1979 World Cup.
Lita dela Rosa
Lita dela Rosa won bowling's World Cup in Bogota, Colombia in 1978.
It was a Filipino triumph just the same. Despite being excluded from the regular gold medal tally, Arianne Cerdena's Olympic gold medal, which she won at Royal Bowling Center in Seoul, South Korea on September 18, 1988 only proves that the Philippines could easily beat other countries for that elusive Olympic gold. For the record, bowling was considered only as a demonstration sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Asiad Gold Medallists
Bong Coo has won five gold medals in the Asian Games from 1978 to 1986. Her teammates in five-person team events were Lita de la Rosa, Rosario de Leon, Lily Reformado, and Nellie Castillo. On October 4, 2002, Paeng Nepomuceno and RJ Bautista won the men's doubles bowling event at the 14th Asian Games in Busan, South Korea. It was the first Asiad gold for Nepomuceno. Both Paeng and RJ are left-handed.
Other Champion Bowlers
Among the other Filipino bowlers who have performed competitively in World Cup and other international tournaments include Irene Benitez, Jojo Canare, Liza Clutario, Angelo Constantino, Rosario de Leon, Liza del Rosario, Benito Dytoc, Jorge Fernandez, Cecilia Gaffud, Delfin Garcia, Irene Garcia, Chester King, Loreto Maranan, Richard Poblete, Lolita Reformado, Leonardo Rey, Linda Reyes, Rene Reyes, Engelbert Rivera, Virgilio Sablan, Rudy Salazar, Jose Santos, Catalina Solis, Christian Suarez, Manny Sugatan, Diana Tanlimco, Paulo Valdez, Bec Watanabe, and Cecilia Yap.
Billiards, one of the four big Bs of Philippine sports, has been a consistent source of pride for Filipino sports aficionados. So popular has this game become that it has edged out basketball as the number one sports among Filipino youth, if one is to consider the number of pool halls in the country today.
This trend can be attributed to the exploits of Filipino cue artists who have invaded various international tournaments in the past two decades. The mere mention of the names Bata, Django, Amang, Lining and others could quickly elicit admiration from Filipino billiard aficionados.
It is a proven fact, and not a hyperbole if we claim that Filipino cue artists are among the world's best that have played the game.
Efren "Bata" Reyes
While Paeng is recognized as the finest Filipino athlete, Efren "Bata" Reyes is undoubtedly the most admired Filipino champion. A 1999 survey conducted by local poll firm Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that "the Magician" is the sports personality most admired by Filipinos.
Bata's magic can be attributed to his humility and his sheer delight in associating with the common tao. His charm can also be credited to the fact that he has been a world champion for many times and is considered the finest billiard player of all time.
In 1995, Bata was ranked as the world's number 1 billiard player. Least known among his exploits is the fact that Bata is a four-time World 8-Ball champion. It is said that nobody could rival Bata's strategy in the 8-ball. In 1999, he clinched the World 9-Ball Championship in Wales, proving that he is an all-around billiard player.
Because of his exploits in Wales, his two gold medals in the 20th Southeast Asian Games in Brunei, and five other major international titles all in one year, Bata received the Athlete of the Year in 1999. For the second time, he was named Athlete of the Year for his exploits in 2001.
In its December 21, 2001 issue, the prestigious Time Magazine has included Reyes in its roster world's best in sports and described him as the Philippines' "sole bona fide international sports superstar".
Aside from the World 8-Ball and Word 9-Ball championships, other international tournaments he has bagged since 1985 include the Tokyo 9-Ball Tournament, the World League Title, International Challenge of Champions 9-Ball Classic, First Masters 9-Ball Championship, Pro-Tour Championship, Derby City One-Pocket, Camel Pro 8-Ball, Masters 9-Ball, among others. In 1995, the US magazine "Billiards Digest" named him as the Player of the Year.
Bata Reyes, who is still an active player, was born in Pampanga in 1953.
Francisco "Django" Bustamante
In 1998, Django Bustamante, who has the most smashing break in billiards, was considered the world's number one billiard player because of the string of victories he won in the United States, Europe, Japan and the Philippines. The US magazine "Billiards Digest" also named him as the Player of the Year for 1998.
Django has bagged the World Pool Masters Championship twice (1998 and 2001). Other international tournaments he has won over the years include the Camel Pro Billiards Series, ESPN Champion of Champions, Japan Open 9-ball event, Peninsula 9-Ball Open, Riviera Hotel Pro- 8-Ball Open Championship in Las Vegas, All-Japan Championship, and IBC 9-Ball.
Despite the death of her young daughter, Bustamante placed second behind Earl Strickland of the United States in the World 9-Ball Championship held in Cardiff, Wales in July 2002. In October of the same year, Django together with Antonio "Nikoy" Lining won a gold medal in the 9-ball doubles event of the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.
Django was born in Tarlac in 1964 and is based in Germany.
Asian Gold Medallists
Billiards has produced two Asiad gold medals for the Philippines. In the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, Romeo Villanueva and Gandy Valle brought home the country's only gold medal, after capturing the 9-ball doubles event title. On October 7, 2002, Francisco "Django" Bustamante and Antonio "Nikoy" duplicated the feat by winning the 9-ball doubles event at the 14th Asian Games held in Busan, South Korea.
Other Billiards Champions
Aside from Bata and Django, the Philippines teems with world billiards champions. Jose "Amang" Parica, for example, was the number one pool player in the US in 1997. Other champions include Edgar Acaba, Dodong Andam, Lee Van Corteza, Ramon del Rosario, Ramil Gallego, Warren Kiamco, Antonio "Nikoy" Lining, Rodolfo Luat, Dennis Orcullo, Alex Pagulayan, Santos Sambajon, and Romeo Villanueva.
Boxing, one of the four big Bs of Philippine sports, has not only produced the most number of Filipino world champions but has also contributed five of the nine Olympic medals harvested by Filipino athletes since the country participated in the Olympics in 1924. The country's two Olympic silver medals came from boxing.
Boxing has also produced the country's lone bronze medal in the Goodwill Games and has hauled 12 gold medals from the Asian Games, the most among sports events that Filipinos participated in.
Two of the four Asians enshrined in the New York-based International Boxing Hall of Fame were Filipinos, namely: Pancho Villa in the old-timer category and Gabriel "Flash" Elorde in the modern category. Aside from Villa and Elorde, the Philippines has also produced world boxing greats like Ceferino Garcia, Ben Villaflor, Erbito Salavarria, Pedro Adigue, Rolando Navarette, Luisito Espinosa, Gerry Penalosa, and Manny Pacquiao.
Pancho Villa, who has been touted as the greatest flyweight of the century by the Associated Press, was also the first world champion from Asia. He was one of only four Asians enshrined into the New York-based International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also inducted to the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
Born as Francisco Guilledo in Ilog, Negros Occidental on August 1, 1901, he began his boxing career in 1919 and adopted the name Pancho Villa after a famous Mexican revolutionary leader.
After his successful bids in the Philippines, he went to New York in pursuit of international bouts. Known for his whirlwind style, Villa, then 22, knocked out reigning world flyweight champion Jimmy Wilde of England in the seventh round at New York's Polo Grounds on June 18, 1923.
Among the opponents that he trounced were Benny Schwartz, Georgie Marks, Frankie Ash and Clever Sencio.
During his entire boxing career, Villa engaged in 99 bouts - 22 knockouts, 49 wins by decision, 5 losses, 4 draws and 19 no-decision bouts.
Gabriel "Flash" Elorde
In 1974, the World Boxing Council named Gabriel "Flash Elorde" as "the greatest world junior lightweight boxing champion in WBC history" for winning 79 bouts in his professional boxing career. In 1993, he became the first Asian inducted into the New York-based International Boxing Hall of Fame. He was also enshrined into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
Elorde became a world champion in the 130-pound division on March 16, 1960 when he knocked out American Harold Gomes at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City. Since then, he has defended his title in 10 bouts for seven years, making him the longest reigning world junior lightweight champion ever. He finally lost to Japanese Yoshiaki Numata in a 15-round match in Tokyo on June 15, 1967.
Elorde was born in Bogo, Cebu in 1935 and died in 1985.
A gold medal at the first Muhammad Ali Cup Invitational Boxing Championship, a silver at the 1997 World Boxing Championships, a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and a bronze at the 1998 Goodwill Games. These are just a few of the many honors Roel Velasco has brought home from grueling international boxing competitions.
With such feats, Roel, the older brother of Olympic silver medallist Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco, is perhaps the country's most successful amateur boxer. In September 1997, Roel, a light flyweight, won the country's first gold medal in the Muhammad Ali Cup Invitational Boxing Championship. That was his third international gold medal in that year, after winning gold medals at the Italian Boxing Championship in Italy and the Balado Memorial Cup in Cuba.
In July 1998, then 24-year-old Roel also won the country's first-ever bronze medal in the Goodwill Games held in New York, USA when he outclassed an American opponent. He later lost to a Russian boxer in the semifinals to settle for the bronze. Before this, Roel won the silver medal in the World Championships held in Budapest, Hungary in 1997.
Roel was the sole Filipino medallist (outside demonstration sports) in the 1992 Olympic Games held in Barcelona, Spain. He won the Olympic bronze medal when he was only 18 years old. Roel was born in Bago City, Negros Occidental province in 1974. He is a member of the Philippine Navy.
Ceferino Garcia was the heaviest Filipino ever who became a world-boxing champion. Known for his bolo punch, he captured the world middleweight title on October 2, 1939 when he knocked out Fred Apostoli in New York. He defended his crown against top rivals twice (Americans Glen Lee and Henry Armstrong) before losing his title in May 1940. Before he switched to the middleweight division, Garcia became a welterweight champion when he knocked out boxing legend and war hero Barney Ross in 1937 and Henry Armstrong in 1938.
He was born in 1912 and grew up in Tondo, Manila. In 1977, Ceferino Garcia was inducted into the Ring Magazine Hall of Fame and into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1981.
For five years, Luisito "Lindol" Espinosa has held two different world-boxing titles: the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight crown and the World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight belt.
In 1996, Luisito Espinosa was named "Athlete of the Year" for defending his World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight crown twice. He edged out Olympic silver medallist Mansueto Velasco in the country's top athlete award. He was again feted the "Athlete of the Year" award in 1999 alongside golfer Frankie Minoza.
The five-foot-seven boxer was born in Tondo, Manila on June 26, 1967.
Manny Pacquiao, one of the finest Filipino power punchers, is an International Boxing Federation (IBF) world super bantamweight champion and a former World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight champion.
He was the first Filipino to clinch a world boxing title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where he floored Lehlo Ledwaba of South Africa in the sixth round to bag the IBF super bantamweight title in June 2001. Before this, Pacquiao knocked out a Thai champion in the 8th round of their match in Bangkok on December 3, 1998 to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight title.
Pacquiao was born in Bukidnon province (northern Mindanao) on December 12, 1976. He is married to the beautiful Jinky.
Another world junior lightweight champion was Ben Villaflor, who was only 18 years old, when he dethroned Alfredo Marcano on April 25, 1972. He lost his title to a Japanese contender but regained it seven months later. Villaflor was able to defend his crown for five times until 1976.
On December 7, 1970, Erbito Salavarria wore the World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight belt when he beat a Thai world champion. On April 1, 1975, he grabbed the World Boxing Association (WBA) flyweight crown from a Japanese fighter.
In August 1981, Rolando Navarrete knocked out a British boxer in the fifth round to clinch the World Boxing Council (WBC) super featherweight championship. Navarrete kept the title until May 1982 when he lost to a Mexican pug.
Pedro Adigue Jr.
Pedro Adigue Jr. had reportedly held five different titles in his professional boxing career. His career reached its peak on December 14, 1968 when he defeated American Adolph Pruitt to bag the World Boxing Council (WBC) junior welterweight crown.
Gerry Penalosa won the World Boxing Council (WBC) super flyweight crown on February 20, 1997 and was able to defend it three times until August 1998. In June 1999, he knocked out a Mexican fighter to clinch the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) North American junior bantamweight title in Mississippi. Penalosa, the brother of former world champion Dodie Boy Penalosa, was born in Cebu.
His real name was Benjamin Gan. Based in the US, Small Montana became the world flyweight champion in 1935. He kept the title until 1937.
Another Filipino who fought in the US, Little Dado kept the National Boxing Association (NBA) flyweight crown from 1938 to 1940. NBA is the predecessor of the World Boxing Association (WBA).
Salvador "Dado" Marino
On August 1, 1950, Salvador "Dado" Marino defeated Terry Allen to bag the world flyweight boxing championship. He kept the title until May 1952.
Roberto Cruz knocked out Raymundo Torres in the first round to clinch the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) junior welterweight crown in Los Angeles, California on March 20, 1964. He was born in Baguio City on November 2, 1941.
Rene Barrientos became a world-boxing champion when he defeated American fighter Ruben Navarro in 1969. In particular, Barrientos was declared World Boxing Council (WBC) super featherweight champion of the world in Tokyo, Japan on February 15, 1969.
On October 20, 1969, Bernabe Villacampo defeated a Japanese opponent to bag the World Boxing Association (WBA) flyweight crown. He kept the title until April 1970.
On September 27, 1983, Frank Cedeno defeated Charlie Magri at Wembley Arena in London, England to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight championship. He kept the title until January 1984.
Dodi "Boy" Penalosa
On February 22, 1987, Dodi Penalosa, the older brother of Gerry Penalosa, beat a South Korean champion to become the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight champion. He lost the title to another South Korean pug in September of the same year.
Rolando Bohol beat a South Korean champion to become the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight champion at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on January 16, 1988. He lost his crown to a British opponent in London in October of the same year.
On November 5, 1988, Tacy Macalos defeated a South Korean boxer to clinch the International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight title in a bout held in Manila. Macalos he kept the cronw until May 1989 when he lost to a Thai contender in Bangkok.
In September 1989, Eric Chavez was crowned the International Boxing Federation (IBF) mini flyweight champion of the world.
On December 19, 1990, Rolando Pascua knocked out Chiquita Gonzalez in the sixth round to bag the World Boxing Council (WBC) light flyweight title. He lost the crown in his first defense match in March 1991.
In September 1992, Manny Melchor defeated a Thai fighter to win the International Boxing Federation (IBF) straw weight championship. Melchor, a boxer from Oriental Mindoro province, relinquished the title to another Thai fighter two months later.
In December 1997, Eric Jamili defeated a British boxer to bag the World Boxing Organization (WBO) straw weight title. He lost the title in May 1998.
Samuel Duran became an Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) featherweight champion in 1998. He also once held the World Boxing council (WBC) international bantamweight title.
On February 14, 1998, Melvin Magramo defeated a Thai champion to retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight crown in front of 10,000 Filipino fans in Las Pinas City.
On December 4, 1999, Joma Gamboa knocked out a Japanese fighter in Nagoya, Japan to become the World Boxing Association (WBA) minimum weight (105 pounds) champion. He defeated a Venezuelan boxer in August 2000 but lost the title to another Japanese opponent in December of that year.
Malcolm Tuñacao was the only reigning Filipino world boxing champion in the year 2000. At 21 years old, Tuñacao grabbed the World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight crown from a Thai boxer in Bangkok on May 21, 2000 and was able to defend it for the rest of the year. Tuñacao was born in Mandaue City in 1978.
In February 2001, Andy Tabanas edged out a Thai fighter to become the leading World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior flyweight. He kept the interim title for two months.
Tiger Ari won the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) super featherweight title in early 2002.
Other Boxing Champions
Among other Filipino champions who have won a world tile or figured in international boxing bouts include Manfredo Alipala, Rey Asis, Dencio Cabanella, Little Cezar, Speedy Dado (Diosdado Posadas), Johnny Jamito, Ronnie Jones, Rocky Kalingo, Baby Lorona, Pretty Boy Lucas, Orlando Medina, Benigno Clever Sison, Roberto Somodio, and Young Terror.
Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco nearly clinched the country's first Olympic gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when he slugged it out with Bulgarian Daniel Bojilov in the light-flyweight finals. The controversial bout led to Velasco bringing home the silver medal. Before this, Velasco was one of the three Filipino boxers who clinched gold medals in the 1994 Asian Games held in Hiroshima, Japan.
The country's first Olympic silver medal came in 1964 when then 19-year-old Anthony Villanueva, son of 1932 bronze medallist Cely Villanueva, fought Russian Stanislave Stephaskin in boxing's featherweight finals at the Tokyo Olympics. Villanueva lost the gold in a split decision to the Russian.
Leopoldo Serantes, a light flyweight, completes the cast of Filipino boxers who have brought home five Olympic medals, and joins the father-and-son tandem of the Villanuevas and the Velasco brothers. Serantes clinched a bronze medal in the Olympic Games held in Seoul, South Korea in 1988.
Leopoldo Contancio won a gold medal in the Asian Challenge Cup in Manila in 1983.
Asiad Gold Medallists
Filipino athletes have won 12 of their total haul of 56 Asiad gold medals in boxing. Five of these 12 boxing gold medals came from the 1954 Asian Games, which Manila hosted while three came from the 1994 Asian Games held in Hiroshima, Japan.
Other Amateur Champions
Aside from the Velasco brothers, the father and son tandem of the Villanuevas and Leopoldo Serantes, other amateur boxers who have shown impressive performance in international competitions include Celedonio Espinosa, Ricardo Fortaleza, Reynaldo Galido, Roberto Janaiz, Alejandro Ortuoste, Ernesto Porto, Elias Recaido, Ernesto Sajo, and Vicente Tunacao.
Basketball is arguably the most loved sports in the Philippines. Despite the lack in height, Filipinos have dominated basketball in Southeast Asia and formed world competitive teams in the 1950s.
The Philippines performed well in its participation in the Olympic basketball event from the 1930s to the 1950s and placed third in the 1954 World Basketball Championship (WBC) held in Brazil.
Basketball has produced four Asiad gold medals for the Philippines. The country also won the Asian Basketball Conference (ABC) championships in 1960, 1963, 1967, 1973 and 1986 and the William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament in 1986 and 1998.
The Philippine basketball team, composed of Philippine Basketball League (PBL) players, has also won the ABC Champions Cup four times: 1984, 1988, 1995 and 1996.
The Philippines Basketball Association (PBA), widely considered the first and oldest professional basketball league in the Asian region, is also the country's number one spectator event.
The Philippine basketball team that placed fifth in the basketball event of the 1936 Olympic Games during the Nazi rule in Berlin, Germany, should have won at least a bronze medal, if not for a controversial ruling. Despite winning four of its five games, the country did not bring home any medal. It lost only to the United States, which eventually clinched the gold medal, but defeated Mexico, Estonia, Italy and Uruguay. The members of that fabled 1936 Philippine basketball team were Ambrosio Padilla (team captain), who later became a senator; Charles Borck, who at 6'1" was the tallest in the team; Jacinto Ciria Cruz, Primitivo Martinez, Jesus Marzan, Franco Marquicias, Fortunato Yambao, Amador Obondo, Bibjano Quano and Johnny Worrel.
The Philippine basketball team also performed superbly well in its other Olympic participations, including placing 12th at the 1948 London Olympics, 7th at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and 11th at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
World Basketball Championship
The Philippine basketball team, captained by Carlos Loyzaga, placed third in the World Basketball Championship (WBC) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1954. The Philippines beat the favored Uruguay team, 67-63, to clinch the third place on November 5, 1954, which was to become the greatest mark in the history of Philippine basketball. As expected, the U.S. team won the title against the host Brazil.
Loyzaga was chosen as a member of the Mythical Five - the world's best basketball players in 1954. His teammates included Lauro Mumar, Florentino Bautista and Mariano Tolentino.
In 1959, the Philippines also placed 9th at the WBC held in Chile.
The Philippine basketball team won the title in the first Asian Basketball Conference (ABC) championship held in Manila in 1960. It duplicated the feat in 1963, 1967, 1973, 1986 and 1996. Basketball has also produced four consecutive Asiad gold medals for the Philippines. The country won the basketball gold in the 1951 New Delhi Asiad, 1954 Manila Asiad, 1958 Tokyo Asiad, and 1962 Jakarta Asiad. The Philippine basketball team, composed of professional celebrities, won a silver medal in the 1990 Asiad, and a bronze medal in 1998 Asiad. The country was the consistent winner in the basketball event at the Southeast Asian Games.
Carlos "The Big Difference" Loyzaga
There was something in common in the country's third place finish in the 1954 World Basketball championship, its four consecutive gold medals in the Asian Games from 1951 to 1962, and its good performance in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and 1960 Rome Olympics. The common thing was Carlos Loyzaga, who was ironically dubbed as the "Big Difference" of Philippine basketball.
A two-time Olympian, Loyzaga, the team captain, was responsible for steering the fabled Philippine team to third place finish in the World Basketball Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on November 5, 1954. He was named to the Mythical Selection for his sterling performance because he was the third best individual scorer in the world event. The Philippines beat Uruguay, 67-63 to win the third place. The title was won by the United States against Brazil.
Loyzaga was the first basketball player to be inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
Hall of Famers
As of 2002, there are 22 basketball players enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Aside from Loyzaga, other basketball players who have been named to the National Basketball Hall of Fame since 1999 include Kurt Bachmann, Carlos Badion, Narciso Bernardo, Charlie Borck, Ramoncito Campos, Loreto Carbonell, Jacinto Ciria-Cruz, Geronimo Cruz, Fely and Gabby Fajardo, Tony Genato, Rafael Hechanova, Eddie Lim, Alfonso (Boy) Marquez, Antonio and Primitivo Martinez, Lauro Mumar, Ed Ocampo, Ambrosio Padilla, Mariano Tolentino, and Francisco Vestil.
All-Time Mythical Five
In January 1998, the Philippine Basketball Association has recognized the All-Time Mythical Five of Philippine Basketball: Carlos Loyzaga, Narciso Bernardo, Robert Jaworski, Hector Calma and Alvin Patrimonio representing five decades of Philippine basketball. Loyzaga was cited for his exploits in the 1950s, Bernardo in the 1960s, Jaworski in the 1970s, Calma in the 1980s and Patrimonio in the 1990s.
25 Best PBA Players
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has recognized the "25 All-Time Greatest Players" in the league: Johnny Abarrientos, William "Bogs" Adornado, Ato Agustin, Francis Arnaiz, Lim Eng Beng, Ricardo Brown, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, Philip Cezar, Atoy Co, Jerry Codiñera, Kenneth Duremdes, Bernard Fabiosa, Ramon Fernandez, Danny Florencio, Alberto Guidaben, Freddie Hubalde, Robert Jaworski, Jojo Lastimosa, Samboy Lim, Ronnie Magsanoc, Vergel Meneses, Manny Paner, Benjie Paras, and Alvin Patrimonio.
Present Batch of Celebrities
A new batch of tall basketball players, many of them Filipino-Americans, has been recently hogging the PBA limelight. Standing at least six feet and six inches tall, these players include Marlou Aquino, Bonel Balingit, Davonn Harp, Dennis Espino, Edward Joseph Feihl, Danny Ildefonso, Jun Limpot, Eric Menk, Mick Pennisi, Andy and Danny Seigle, Paul "Asi" Taulava, and James Walkvist. Feihl, for one, stands seven feet tall.
Two PBA players hold the record of having won the MVP awards four times in their career. These players are Ramon Fernandez of Crispa Redmanizers and Alvin Patrimonio of TJ Hotdogs. Fernandez retired from the PBA in the early 1990s while Patrimonio remains an active player for the Hotdogs.
Benjie Paras of Formula Shell was the first and only PBA player who won the MVP and the Rookie of the Year awards in the same year. Paras, with the moniker "Tower of Power", accomplished his double feats in 1989. When tall Filipino-American players posed a threat to this record, Paras again rose to the occasion and bagged the coveted MVP title in 1999.
Bobby Parks won the "Best Import" award in the PBA for seven times. Parks has played for Shell and is now one of the team's consultants.
Grand Slam Coaches
Four PBA coaches were able to win a grand slam (three championship titles in a year) each for their respective teams. They are Baby Dalupan and Tommy Manotoc of Crispa Redmanizers, Norman Black of San Miguel Beer, and Tim Cone of Alaska Milk.
Allan Caidic, probably the best three-point shooter in the land during his heyday, has represented the Philippines as a player in four Asian Games (1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998) and as an assistant coach in the 2002 Asian Games. He was a part of the basketball team that won the Jones Cup in 1985 and 1998 and played a large part in clinching the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) championship in 1986.
Hector Calma was a part of the Philippine basketball team that won the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) juniors championship in 1978 and 1982 and played a pivotal role in clinching the ABC men's title in 1986. Calma was also a part of the Philippines in Asian Games in 1990 and 1994.