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US NCAA's first Filipino basketball head coach raring to make mark

US NCAA's first Filipino basketball head coach raring to make mark

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

Replacing 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 the UC Sta. Barbara product 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.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg as the Asian Coaches Association founder and president has set the sky as the limit for the rising Highlanders.

“What a grand opportunity to take over from one of my best friends and mentor David. We have built a true family here with this team and it’s led to the success of this burgeoning Big West program,” added Magpayo, who had previous coaching stints with San Francisco, Campbell and Columbia.

Magpayo will have an intact Highlanders roster next season led by the 7-foot-1 Callum McRae, 6-foot-10 Angus McWilliam and dazzling guard George Willborn.