FOR Filipino Mike Magpayo, the newly-appointed men’s basketball head coach of United States NCAA Division 1 (D1) school UC Riverside, his ethnicity had nothing to do with his ascension to the head coaching ranks.
Rather, Magpayo — who is the first D1 men’s basketball coach of Asian descent — asserts that if you work hard and you know your basketball, players will respond to your coaching.
“I think if you’re a good coach, it doesn’t matter. If you’re good and you have the knowledge and you put the work in, I think even LeBron James would listen to you if you know what you’re talking about,” Magpayo said during the Coaches Unfiltered webcast.
“If you don’t know what you’re talking about, that’s when players start to object and start not to trust you. I think that’s where some of my successes have been, I’ve been able to relate, as far as players go. It’s always been great and I’ve always been really lucky and fortunate to coach guys with mutual respect and I’m able to connect with and to be able to impact them, coach and improve,” the 40-year old added.
Magpayo also shared a secret weapon of his in this effort to bring his players closer: his mother’s lumpia and pancit.
“We love to talk. I love to invite them to my house, so like Thanksgiving, my mom’s making all that food, I get the players to my house and they love it. They eat my mom’s food, my mom cooks everything, lumpia, pancit, everything. So my thing is relationships because I really believe in this,” Magpayo said.
It has been a long climb up the ladder for Magpayo, who was promoted after the team’s former head coach David Patrick accepted the associate head men’s basketball coaching position at the University of Arkansas. Before that, Magpayo functioned as the defensive coordinator of the UC Riverside defense that finished in top-10 nationally and tied the program's D1 record for wins (17) in the 2019-20 season.
"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 was quoted as saying on the school’s official website. "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."
Magpayo also had crucial piece of advice for his fellow countrymen: don’t let any barrier stop you from chasing your dream.
“Just the way I’ve been in life and just the way my parents raised me, my dad and mom always said, ‘chase your dream, believe in yourself’ and I’m proud to be Filipino. I think we are awesome, I think we are great. So, I never let those barriers–I never even thought about it. I’ve just pushed forward.” (JNP)