2016 Class of FIBA Hall of Fame: Manuel Raga
A shooting guard that many believe to be the greatest Mexican player of all time, Raga competed at three Olympics and three FIBA Basketball World Cups. He was also a hit at the 1967 Pan American Games, helping his country capture a silver medal.
On the club scene, Raga made a name for himself at Ciudad Madero (1960-1963) and later Villa Aldama (1964-1968). His fame made it all the way to Europe.
Raga is a beloved figure in the history of Ignis Varese, a team he helped to three Italian league and Cup double-winning campaigns in 1969, 1970 and 1971. He was a member of the Varese sides that won the EuroLeague in 1970, 1972 and 1973.
The Aldama, Tamaulipas-born player finished his European career with Federale Lugano (1974-77) in Switzerland, a club he led to three league titles.
Nicknamed 'The Helicopter' because of his ability to hang in the air, Raga remembers fondly his time as a Mexico player.
"To be in the national team makes you feel something that separates you from the rest," he once said. "Some show it, others don't - but everyone feels it."
The nets certainly felt it.
Raga put the ball through the hoop more than anyone else ever had in his homeland. He was a scoring machine.
At his second Olympics in 1968, when Raga was 24, he averaged 18.5 points per game as Mexico finished fifth after the USA, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and Brazil.
Six years later and he took his scoring outbursts to new heights in Puerto Rico at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, pouring in 25.8 points per game. Raga was the second leading scorer at the event.
It was the 1968 Olympics that served as a turning point in his career.
The city of Varese made Raga an honorary citizen for life. That would not have been possible, he says, had he not donned the Mexico jersey.
"Those Olympics marked my life," he once said. "We were a great team. We all fought for a common goal and without a doubt, thanks to the group of teammates, I received an opportunity in Europe."