Basketball: NZ Breakers escape Cyclone Gabrielle on early-morning flights to Melbourne, Tasmania

NZ Breakers have fled the country in the early hours of Monday morning, escaping any possible disruption to their ANBL playoffs run from Cyclone Gabrielle.

No sooner had they won the opening encounter of their three-game semi-final series against Tasmania JackJumpers, the Breakers were forced to depart across the Tasman as soon as they could, flying at 6am to dodge the oncoming weather event.

Returning to the final four for the first time since 2018, the Auckland side defeated Tasmania 88-68 at Spark Arena to put themselves one win away from returning to the ANBL finals.

Derek Pardon against Tasmania JackJumpers.
Derek Pardon against Tasmania JackJumpers. Photo credit: Photosport

Air New Zealand has cancelled all domestic and some international flights to and from Auckland, due to the cyclone.

Rather than take that risk with their trip to Tasmania, where they will play Game Two on Thursday night, the Breakers and JackJumpers both travelled with Qantas.

Rather than adopt a 'woe is me' mentality, Breakers coach Mody Maor insists his side won't be dragged down with something else going against them.

"In the first practice of the season, I told the guys circumstances in the NBL are always going to be against us," said Maor, after the opening game.

"The team that wins or rises to the occasion is the one that overcomes the circumstances - it's not the one that gets the smooth ride.

"God knows it hasn't been a smooth ride until now and it's not a smooth ride now either. Our guys finally earned a day off in New Zealand, they're not going to get it now.

"We leave at 3am to the airport, and we have two-and-a-half days to prepare in Tasmania.

"We don't feel sorry for ourselves, we feel grateful for the opportunity to go and do the work."

One more victory over the JackJumpers would put the Breakers into the ANBL finals for the first time since 2015, when they lost 2-1 to Perth Wildcats.