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Mike Magpayo ready to face challenge as UCR Highlanders head coach

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Tiebreaker Times Mike Magpayo ready to face challenge as UCR Highlanders head coach Basketball News  UC-Riverside Highlanders Mike Magpayo

Mike Magpayo and the rest of the coaching staff handled the University of California, Riverside while head coach David Patrick was away with Australia in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. 

The Filipino coach was then just in his second year with the Highlanders program following a stint with University of San Francisco. But it was that moment that gave him the confidence that he can lead players.

“When they were at the World Championships, myself and the rest of our staff got to coach the team while he was gone for about four to five weeks,” he told Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Coaches Unfiltered, presented by SMART and supported by Mighty Sports.

“And so, it kinda gave me the confidence to realize, ‘Okay, I can lead these guys’, and there’s a good connection between us and they respect me as a coach.”

Fast forward to now, Magpayo has taken over the head coaching reins from Patrick, who joined Arkansas to be its associate head coach.

And up to now, even weeks after his naming, he still cannot fathom it.

“It just happened [so] quick,” said the 40-year-old Magpayo, who made history by becoming the first-ever Filipino NCAA Division 1 head coach.

“It happened really quickly.”

Things moved fast, indeed. Having been with UC Riverside since 2018, his appointment came just a month following his appointment as the Highlanders’ associate head coach after helping the team to 17 wins in the 2019-20 season.

Still, Magpayo, a product of UC Santa Barbara, is nothing but thrilled. And it brings him so much joy to make his family extremely proud, most especially his parents.

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“It’s exciting. My parents are proud as heck! My mom’s just like, ‘Oh, everybody’s hitting me up on Facebook!’, and nobody’s more proud than my mom and dad,” he shared, beaming.

“First, it means a lot to make my family proud. And of course, all the well-wishes and from all the people who are hitting me up. It’s exciting. I’m humbled. I don’t even know how to deal with it yet — I don’t even know what it means.

“It happened fast for me, too, as far as, like… Just the last week and how it went down. But obviously, it’s really, really exciting, and I’m thrilled. It’s crazy,” he furthered.

On top of it, though, Magpayo is extremely grateful to Patrick. “This is Coach Patrick, who has now become one of my best friends and mentor, and the guy who made all this happen. I owe him my life for making this happen for me.”

Moving forward, Magpayo feels glad that he has an intact squad, which will make things easier for him and his staff while they all aim to pull the program to greater heights.

“So far we got a hundred percent retention, which is the biggest and most important part, because we have a really, really good team actually,” said Magpayo, who first coached in the college ranks in 2010.

“We have a lot of size, we were very good defensively last year, so the next step would be, can we grow up this year? Our point of difference is, we have size in UC Riverside. And we got great kids, like very good in the classroom. It’s really important for us to recruit guys with good character, good attitude, good work ethic and we’ve done that here,” he added.

“And, we’re big, we got some talent. So we’re in a good place. If we can go back on the court and play, all we got to do is put this product on the court and I think we’ll have a shot to compete in the Big West.”

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