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Departed heroes in 2016

Caloy Loyzaga, Baby Dalupan and Boy Codiñera were among the Philippine sports personalities who said goodbye in 2016, leaving many to reflect on the achievements that made them some of the best in their respective fields.

They were adored for providing some of the country’s best sporting moments, with Loyzaga leading the Philippines to some of its greatest basketball achievements in the 50’s and 60’s, Dalupan steering teams to glory in the early years of the PBA, and Codinera being local baseball’s premier hitters in the 60’s and 70’s.

Loyzaga, who passed away because of a cardiac arrest last January at age 85, lived up to his nickname “The Great Difference,” for guiding the Philippines to its best ever finish in the FIBA World Championship – a third place finish in the 1954 edition held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before steering the Nationals to the 1967 ABC crown as a coach, beating host South Korea in the final.

On the local scene, “King Caloy” was considered as the greatest player ever to wear San Beda Red Lions jersey, leading the Mendiola quintet to three NCAA championships in 1951, 1952 and 1955, before playing the starring role for the YCO Painters during their tumultuous battles with archrival Ysmael Steel for MICAA glory in between the 50’s and 60’s.

Almost the same time as Loyzaga was lording it over the cage scene, Dalupan was beginning to make a name for himself in the coaching ranks. And it proved to be a wonderful career for the man they call “The Maestro.”

Dalupan, who expired last August at age 92, is considered as the country’s greatest basketball coach, having won more than 50 titles during his time as coach of the University of the East Red Warriors, Ateneo Blue Eagles, Crispa Redmanizers, Great Taste and Purefoods.

But it was at UE and Crispa were he earned the adulation of many. In the UAAP, he guided the Red Warriors to 12 titles, including a streak of seven straight from 1965 to 1971 with a cast that included Robert Jaworski.

At Crispa, Dalupan coached some of the greatest players in basketball history from the MICAA up until the Floro-owned team’s entry in the PBA. He is the first coach to win a grand slam, when the Redmanizers swept all three titles in 1976 at the expense of bitter rival Toyota.

At the height of Loyzaga and Dalupan’s popularities were the incredible feats made by Codinera on the diamond.

Codiñera, who died at 77 due to a stroke in October, made his mark in the UAAP and the Manila Bay Baseball League, first for University of Santo Tomas and later for Ysmael Steel and the Canlubang Sugar Barons.

On the international scene, the man fondly called as “Mang Boy” led the Philippine Blu Boys to a fourth place finish in the 1968 Men’s Softball World Championship in Oklahoma City, where his seven consecutive doubles were later included in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Among his lasting legacies came during his advanced years as coach of the Adamson baseball and softball teams that won numerous UAAP championships.

Other notable personalities who joined our Creator:

Ronnie Nathanielsz (sports commentator)

Mariano Ong (two-time Olympic shooter)

Gilbert Bulawan (PBA forward for Blackwater)

Cecil Hechanova (first chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission)

Ciriaco Canete (eskrima artist)