HIS side dropped both legs of a gruelling road double but Illawarra coach Brian Goorjian is just relieved to see an end to the scheduling lottery that's yet to do his side any favours.
The Hawks went down 87-76 to United in Melbourne on Sunday less than 48 hours after dropping Friday's clash with the Wildcats 83-69 in Perth.
They fell behind quickly against United, who went a near impeccable 12-14 from the field in the opening quarter, including 6-7 from deep. Jock Landale led the way with 13 points, 11 rebounds and five assists but the hosts had eight of nine players on the sheet score six or more points.
Justinian Jessup had 19 points and five rebounds for the Hawks, while Tyler Harvey had 17 points. AJ Ogilvy and Sam Froling had 11 points each but Goorjian's team never really looked in it.
"We knew this was going to be a tough two [games]," Goorjian said.
"The Perth one was a struggle but we were in the game with six minutes to go. Tonight [United] shot the ball really well to start the game. It's just a tough double.
"It would've been fantastic to get a split, it's what we shooting for, but we were down 14 at halftime on the second game of a road trip like this... it could've gone to 30.
"There was no quit in us. They had us by 18, they had us by 16, they are who they are and they are where they are. We cut it back to 10 and just couldn't get the stops we needed and turned the ball over a little bit too much in crunch times.
"I'm on the high road on this, we're in a pretty good place mentally, the guys fought hard, there was no quit in them and they didn't let it go."
It was a tough end to a tough road trip but, with the NBL having released the remainder of the schedule for the season, the Hawks will enjoy seven of their last nine games at home for a push at the finals. It's welcome relief for Goorjian ahead of a return to Wollongong to take on Sydney on Saturday.
"We get a chance to rest up, we've got a little bit coming up at home and we're still in this thing," Goorjian said.
"The only team we haven't beaten is Perth. Everyone else we've played we've had a win. We know we're competitive and we know we're capable of winning.
"This is a first-year organisation, completely. We're at this point of the season, we've got a better understanding of ourselves, we're at home and we're in it. Now, it's all about us.
"We're coming back with a majority of games at home and we're in it. If we win, we're going to the playoffs. If we don't against the teams we're playing at with home court [advantage], we don't deserve to be there. It's in our box."
With Cam Bairstow still indefinitely sidelined with a leg injury, Deng Adel was added to the injury list on Sunday, a quad strain ending his night early.
"It's a quad issue, there was some sort of strain," Goorjian said.
"He pointed to the sideline and I took him out. I was told a couple of minutes later he was done for the night. They'll assess that now. We've got some depth there with [Dan] Grida back and playing Tyler in the two [spot] and giving Naar some minutes... there's a direction to go.
"It's disappointing but some injuries you can cover and certain injuries are really difficult. We'll do whatever we can to get him back but we do have coverage there."