Illawarra Hawks fans are still trying to forget the last time Rob Beveridge and Kevin Lisch combined at a basketball club.
The coach-player duo led Perth Wildcats to victory in the 2009-10 NBL championship, defeating the Hawks 2-1 to win the series and take the crown.
It was Lisch’s debut season in Australia and he walked away with the MVP trophy from the finals series.
He continued to terrorise opposition clubs until he left the Wildcats in 2013, but not before winning the NBL’s MVP award for season 2011-12, and getting named in the All NBL team twice during his four-year visit.
Now Lisch returns to the country on a mission - to pull the Hawks from the basement to the penthouse.
The 29-year-old American import became the club’s fifth signing on Monday and joins Rhys Martin, AJ Ogilvy, Oscar Forman, and Tyson Demos on the playing roster.
Beveridge is excited to rekindle the partnership.
‘‘Kev played for me for four years and I'm like a bit of a father figure really,’’ Beveridge said.
‘‘I'm very close with Kev, his wife and his family.
‘‘He's such a tremendous human being.
‘‘He changed the culture of the Wildcats with the way he acted and who he was.
‘‘He's a pretty special guy.’’
Lisch played college basketball with St Louis but went undrafted in the NBA in 2009.
He subsequently signed with Perth and went on to play four seasons with the Wildcats, collecting a swag of medals and trophies along the way.
In 2013 he won another championship with Puerto Rico side Piratas de Quebradillas and was again named MVP for the finals series.
He played in France over the 2013-14 season, and then in Spain for 2014-15.
Ultimately, it was family which lured Lisch back to Australia.
His wife Rachel - herself an accomplished basketballer - is from Sydney, and the couple gave birth to their second child in May.
‘‘He was coming off contract in Europe, he's got two kids under 18 months of age,’’ Beveridge explained.
‘‘I spoke to him about the challenge of rebuilding the club, and with the opportunity for his kids to grow up seeing their Australian grandparents as well, it worked out really well.
‘‘It's great for Rachel as well.
‘‘It was all to do with timing.’’
Lisch is currently spending time with his parents and family in the US but is expected to land in Wollongong in about a fortnight to commence training with the Hawks.
Beveridge is in the process of organising a handful of pre-season games to kick the team into gear before the season proper tips off in October.
With five players now stitched up, the Hawks are rushing to finalise their roster and fill the remaining five spots.
Beveridge isn’t keen to give away any clues on their next signing but hopes to make another announcement in the coming week.