Brian Goorjian knows his latest and most unlikely NBL rescue mission could be his toughest yet.
The former Boomers mentor left Australia for the lucrative Chinese league in 2009 with six NBL titles and as many coach of the year gongs.
Less than a year after doubting he'd ever return as a head coach, the 66-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the newly-bought Hawks.
Goorjian boasts an incredible 70 per cent win ratio across 20 seasons in Australia, arriving at both Sydney Kings and Souths Dragons to turn them from easy-beats to champions in one season.
The Hawks, twice placed into administration in the last five years, limped to a league-worst 5-23 record last season.
Aware of what's ahead of him, there are no early promises of a repeat in Wollongong.
Goorjian's only targets are to harness the club's off-contract young talent and land two quality imports and a Next Stars talent to ensure they're "throwing punches and in the fight" later this year.
"The Dragons had finished last, and the Kings when I went there the first year they were rock bottom and we won it," Goorjian told AAP.
"The difference is though, that this is a new franchise, starting a new culture, no players are signed - we're starting from the very start.
"They're all free agents and it's a free for all, so that's my job right now, sell what we're going to do and convince them to come back to the Hawks."
Even the club's name has changed, with the NBL controversially opting to strip Illawarra from the Hawks' title in an effort to broaden their reach as they consider playing some home games away from their Wollongong base.
It will certainly be Goorjian's new home though, the coach happy to pass up bigger offers in Asia to relocate to a coastal strip he remembers fondly for its beauty and passionate fan base.
Not contracted beyond this season in China, Goorjian was lured back by friend and new Hawks co-owner Dorry Kordahi, who he worked with at the Kings.
"He (Kordahi) said 'Brian, some day, I'm going to get my team and you're going to be my coach'," Goorjian reflected.
"I loved the basketball but just thought the league was on its knees and since then (NBL owner) Larry Kestelman has done so much for me to even take it (a coaching return) seriously again.
"I loved it there (in China), but when you weigh it all up; the opportunity, what's going on in the NBL, Australia, time of my career, this makes perfect sense and the financial side was low on the list of priorities."
* GOORJIAN'S NBL COACHING NUMBERS
- 735 NBL games with 514 wins between 1988-2009
- Only person to win six NBL championships as head coach
- A record six-time winner of the Lindsay Gaze Trophy as NBL Coach of the Year (1992, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2009)
- Featured in the NBL semi-finals in the last 20 seasons he coached.
Australian Associated Press