NEW Hawks co-owner Dorry Kordahi has thrown down the challenge to coach Brian Goorjian to propel the team to the top of the NBL ladder.
The Illawarra franchise has spent years battling against larger and better funded rivals, the Hawks regularly punching above their weight.
While that status has seen the club achieve success, most recently their run to the 2017 finals, they have also struggled.
Last season was a low point, the side winning just five games in a summer filled with off-court turmoil.
This year, the Hawks claim, will be different.
"This is the highest paid roster the Hawks have ever had," Kordahi said.
"Going through COVID, it's definitely a bit tricky not knowing the commercial return.
"As an ownership group, we believe in investing into the Hawks, which is why we took it on board.
"To be a winning team and a winning organisation, you need to hire the best.
"Getting Brian in was a big impact.
"We are here to win games and we're serious about this organisation.
"I said it at the start, we're not here to make up numbers, we're here to be a title contender."
Goorjian is a six-time NBL title-winning coach, however he has spent the past 11 years working in China.
With basketball evolving drastically in recent times, the 67-year-old is prepared for a challenge, but he's confident he can enjoy success with this Hawks squad.
"[Playoffs] are the goal, the challenge," Goorjian said.
"The talent's there, the challenge is everybody's new.
"There's no familiarity, there's going to be a process learning how to play together.
"I've been in the NBL for a number of years, but not for the past 11.
"I just know what we've got and I feel good about what we've got and I feel good about the direction of the club.
"I can't make guarantees today, but the group, if I'm in ownership and I look at this, I know there's five guys already that are young that are going to be here for a while."
It comes amid an off-season filled with uncertainty, for the Hawks and the league.
The franchise was placed in voluntary administration in April, before a consortium led by Kordahi eventually bought the licence in June.
With no players on the roster, Goorjian had to build his squad from scratch, months after rival clubs had started forward planning.
This came amid a backdrop of COVID-19, the pandemic casting a shadow over the coming season.
Initially delayed until December, the league is now set to start in January, a shift the Hawks hope to benefit from.
"What I do know is we've got time," Goorjian said.
"We've got a lot of time to do things together as a team, social things to get the group closer together, and then we've got a lot of time to work on detail, a lot of time to work on conditioning and strength.
"Those are the areas that usually when you're coming into a new team, you just don't have that time block.
"We're starting to get guys back now.
"We know the season isn't going to be until late January, as opposed to December, which was a blessing for us under our circumstances."
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