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Teófilo "Teó" Cruz Downs (January 8, 1942 – August 30, 2005) was a Puerto Rican professional basketball player. After playing college basketball, Cruz played in Puerto Rico's top level league, the Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN) with Cangrejeros de Santurce, Indios de Canóvanas, Mets de Guaynabo, Cardenales de Río Piedras, and Taínos de Mayagüez. Cruz also played in Spain with Picadero Damm, and in Belgium with Racing Club Mechelen.

Teófilo Cruz
Teofilo Cruz.jpg
Personal information
Born(1942-01-08)January 8, 1942
Santurce, Puerto Rico
DiedAugust 30, 2005(2005-08-30) (aged 63)
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
NationalityPuerto Rican
Listed height6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
CollegeNew York University
Seattle University
NBA draft1965 / Round: 6 / Pick: 55th overall
Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers
Playing career1957–1982
Career history
1957–1964Cangrejeros de Santurce
1965–1966Picadero Damm
1966–1969Cangrejeros de Santurce
1969–1970Racing Club Mechelen
1970–1976Cangrejeros de Santurce
1977–1978Indios de Canóvanas
1979Mets de Guaynabo
1980Cardenales de Río Piedras
1981–1982Taínos de Mayagüez
Career highlights and awards
FIBA Hall of Fame as player

Cruz was also a member of the senior Puerto Rican national basketball team, and he represented Puerto Rico in five Summer Olympic Games, from 1960 to 1976, making him the first athlete to do so. On March 1, 2007, he was inducted into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame.


College careerEdit

Cruz played college basketball in the United States. He was originally a member of New York University's NYU Violets (1961–1962), but he transferred to Seattle University, where he was a member of the Seattle Redhawks (1962–1965).[1][2] After his college career, he was selected with the 55th overall pick of the 1965 NBA Draft, by the Los Angeles Lakers.[3]

Club careerEdit

Cruz played for 25 seasons in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN) of Puerto Rico. He was the league's Most Valuable Player 4 times. He was also selected the league's Defensive Player of the Year a record five times. He played with the Santurce Crabbers, Indios de Canóvanas, Mets de Guaynabo, Cardenales de Río Piedras, and Taínos de Mayagüez.

He also led the league in points per game twice, and was the first player ever to reach 9,000 total points scored in the BSN. In total, he scored 9,535 points, for an average of 16.3 points per game. He also grabbed 4,672 total rebounds, for an average of 8.0 rebounds per game. He also had 605 assists, during his twenty-five-year career.[4]

National team careerEdit

Cruz was the starting center of the senior Puerto Rican national basketball team, at the times when Puerto Rico and Brazil were the two dominant teams in the FIBA Americas region, excluding the United States. Cruz was the first basketball player to compete at five different Summer Olympics. That feat was matched twenty years later by Brazilian player Oscar Schmidt, at the 1996 Summer Olympics, and later by American player Teresa Edwards and Australian player Andrew Gaze, at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and by Spanish player Juan Carlos Navarro, at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Cruz also played at the 1974 FIBA World Championship, in Puerto Rico, and at numerous Pan American Games and CentroBasket tournaments.

Awards and accomplishmentsEdit


Cruz died on August 30, 2005, of a brain hemorrhage. After his death, on August 31, 2005, the sports complex in San Juan was named after him, in his honor. Also, before a game between the Puerto Rican and Venezuelan national teams, a moment of silence was held in his memory.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit