Mike Magpayo
STAR/ File
Magpayo, Highlanders pursue upward ride
John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - July 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — After blazing a historic trail as the first Filipino head coach in US NCAA Division I basketball, Mike Magpayo now looks forward to bringing University of California (UC) Riverside to great heights next season.

A replacement to David Patrick who accepted an associate head coaching job in Arkansas, the Filipino mentor can’t wait to buckle down to work in a bid to make the Highlanders a strong Big West Conference contender.

“The momentum we have created with this elite group of young men is unstoppable because of our foundation and pure joy we have being in each other’s lives,” said Magpayo, whose parents Lito and Ninet were born and raised in the Philippines. “Thankful to keep our staff, a powerful, positive and innovative group of young hustlers. Come check us out. Legacy is ours to take.”

The Highlanders finished as the sixth seed in the Big West last season when Magpayo was then serving as defensive coordinator and associate coach to Patrick.

Though behind UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge, UC Sta. Barbara, Hawaii and UC Davis, UC Riverside’s potential was already there as the Highlanders under the defensive brilliance of  Magpayo became a top-10 defensive squad nationwide upon their US NCAA D-1 tournament qualification.

Riverside also racked up 17 wins, the school’s highest in D-1 history.

Magpayo, the Asian Coaches Association founder/president, is hopeful they can do better in the coming season.

“What a grand opportunity to take over from one of my best friends and mentor. We have built a true family here with this team and it’s led to the success of this burgeoning Big West program,” he said.

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