Fierce rivals Ginebra, Purefoods on course to meet in first round of PBA playoffs
Ginebra coach Jeff Cariaso and his longtime mentor, Tim Cone of Purefoods, may end up crossing swords again at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs. Jerome Ascano

DON'T look now, but the playoff match-up everybody wants to see in the PBA Philippine Cup may happen not in the finals or the semifinals, but in the quarterfinals.

That is very much a possibility after a run of results put longtime rivals Barangay Ginebra and Purefoods on a collision course in the first round of the playoffs of the season-opening tournament.

The league's two most popular teams will end facing each other at the start of the playoffs if three things happen in the final stretch of the single-round eliminations.

One, Rain or Shine must beat Ginebra (6-4) on Sunday. Two, Purefoods (5-5) must win over Barako Bull and, three, GlobalPort (5-5) must beat Meralco (5-5).

Such a scenario will have Ginebra, Purefoods, and GlobalPort ending up in a tie for the fifth to seventh spots at the end of the elims, and the Batang Pier grabbing the No. 5 spot by virtue of a higher quotient - thanks to their 98-77 walloping of the Kings in their only meeting so far this season.

Ginebra and Purefoods will then end up at No. 6 and 7, respectively, with the Kings enjoying twice-to-beat advantage over the reigning grand slam champions.

Such a showdown should be mouth-watering, considering the success of playoff showdowns pitting the two storied rivals in the past.

The last time the two teams met in the playoffs, they ended up attracting a then record crowd of 24,883 fans to Game Seven of their Philippine Cup semifinal series last season.

That seven-game series which Purefoods won ended up attracting an average turnout of 17,373 per game.

Purefoods still holds a 3-2 edge over Ginebra in their series duels.

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