It appears even immigration officials are getting behind the New Zealand Breakers as they look to avoid a fifth-straight loss against Sydney Kings on Sunday, after the visitors were left unable to enter the country.
The Kings' Twitter feed showed players curled up on the floor of Auckland's international terminal after a lockdown caused by a small fire prevented them from entering the country.
After ending Perth's seven-game winning streak midweek, the Kings are hoping to impart a fresh low on this weekend's opposition and worsen a losing run rivalled only by the 1-9 Cairns Taipans.
While it is far too early to write off the historically successful Breakers, a changing of the guard on the court and in the office has brought mixed fortunes so far in 2018.
Half of their most recent slump came at the hand of league leaders Perth – including a heartbreaking overtime loss in Auckland – but the Breakers will need to overturn a 13-point deficit in Sydney last month to avoid falling behind in the race to the finals.
With little respect for the form guide, Kings coach Andrew Gaze warned against underestimating what he described as a "really talented team", despite an unblemished record against them this year.
"We know that [with] their season, they're going to come out really, really desperate so we've got to meet that aggression, meet that passion and determination or else we'll lose," Gaze said.
"We're confident because we beat them [in New Zealand] and we beat them [in Sydney], but we've got great respect for what they do."
New Zealand can add a well-rested squad to their home advantage, having not yet played since the FIBA international break. In contrast, it will be only three days since Sydney’s 77-72 win against Perth come tip off.
Saturday's three-hour flight across the Tasman is the first stop on a four-game road trip for the Kings, which will take them to Perth, Wollongong and Cairns in less than two weeks.
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