Teófilo Cruz

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Teófilo Cruz
Teofilo Cruz.jpg
Personal information
Born (1942-01-08)January 8, 1942
Santurce, Puerto Rico
Died August 30, 2005(2005-08-30) (aged 63)
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
Nationality Puerto Rican
Listed height 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight 220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
NBA draft 1965 / Round: 6 / Pick: 55th overall
Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers
Playing career 1957–1982
Position Center
Number 13
Career highlights and awards
FIBA Hall of Fame as player

Teófilo "Teo" Cruz Downs (January 8, 1942 – August 30, 2005) was a Puerto Rican professional basketball player. Cruz played in the NCAA, and the Baloncesto Superior Nacional with Cangrejeros de Santurce, Mets de Guaynabo, Indios de Canovanas, Cardenales de Río Piedras, and Taínos de Mayagüez. Cruz played internationally in Spain with Picadero Damm and in Belgium with Racing Club Mechelen. Cruz was a member of the Puerto Rican national basketball team and represented Puerto Rico in five Olympic games from 1960 to 1976 making him the first athlete to do so. On March 1, 2007 he was selected to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame.


Cruz was the first basketballer to compete at five Olympics. This was matched twenty years later by Brazilian Oscar Schmidt in 1996 and by American Teresa Edwards and Australian Andrew Gaze in 2000.

Cruz played for 25 seasons in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN) of Puerto Rico and was the Most Valuable Player 4 times. He was also selected the defensive player of the year a record five times. He played with the Santurce Crabbers, Guaynabo Mets, Canovanas Indians, Río Piedras, and Mayagüez Tainos. Teo also led the league in points per game twice and was the first player ever to reach 9,000 points in the BSN (9535 points to be exact). Teo was the starting center of the Puerto Rican National basketball team in the times when Puerto Rico and Brazil were the two dominant teams in the Americas outside the United States. Teo is one of four Puerto Rican basketball players to have carried the nation's flag for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Teo did this in 1976 during the Montreal Olympics; the others were Carlos Arroyo (Athens 2004), Jose "Tonin" Casillas (Rome 1960), and Jaime Frontera (Mexico 1968). After Teo's death on August 31, 2005, they decided to name the sports complex in San Juan in his honor. And before a game against Venezuela, a moment of Silence was held in memory of Teofilo Cruz. He died on August 30, 2005 of a brain hemorrhage.

Career stats[edit]

During his career in the National Superior Basketball league, Cruz scored 9,512 points with an average of 16.3 points per game. He captured 4,672 rebounds with an average of 8.0 rebounds per game. He also had 605 assists during his twenty-five-year career.

International honors and career accomplishments[edit]

  • On March 1, 2007, Cruz was selected to the FIBA Hall of Fame, he was the first player from America to be inducted in the international Hall of Fame, he was part of the first introduction class in history. Cruz participated in 5 Olympic Games in Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968, Munich 1972, and Montreal 1976; 1 FIBA World Championship in Puerto Rico 1974; and in numerous Panamerican and Centroamerican Games.
  • Named one of FIBA's 50 Greatest Players (1991)
  • National Superior Basketball League Most Valuable Player Award 1962
  • National Superior Basketball League Most Valuable Player Award 1967
  • National Superior Basketball League Most Valuable Player Award 1970
  • National Superior Basketball League Most Valuable Player Award 1971

See also[edit]

External links[edit]