Fil-Am coach gets chance to prove he has what it takes

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    A FIL-AM coach calling the shots for a US NCAA Division I school?

    That is now a reality.

    Michael Magpayo made history after he was named as the new tactician of University of California, Riverside, becoming the first of Filipino and Asian descent to get the job.

    Magpayo took over at the Highlanders’ helm from David Patrick, who moved to University of Arkansas as associate head coach.

    “I am honored, humbled, and absolutely thrilled for the opportunity to lead our University of California Riverside Men’s Basketball program into the future,” Magpayo said in a statement.

    “I want to thank AD (Athletic Director) Tamica Smith Jones and Chancellor Kim Wilcox for this incredible opportunity. Most of all, I am eternally grateful to coach David Patrick, a true leader, a role-model like no other, and a friend,” he added.

    Magpayo, whose parents were born and raised in the Philippines, was UC Riverside’s defensive coach before he was promoted to associate head coach last June.

    “I am thrilled that Mike Magpayo will have an opportunity to lead the way forward. I have no doubt about the way Mike and the staff will represent this program,” said Patrick.

    Added UC Riverside Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tamica Smith Jones: “I am fully confident coach Magpayo will keep this team on the upward trajectory it is on.”

    The Highlanders, who play in the Big West Conference, were sporting a 17-15 card this season before the tourney was called off for good in mid-March due to the lethal COVID-19 pandemic.

    Magpayo, who also had stints with Columbia University, Campbell University, and San Francisco and is the president of the Asian Coaches Association in the US, is looking forward to scaling new heights for UC Riverside.

    “Leading our program is special and doing so in my home area of Southern California is truly special,” he said.