The rivalry between Barangay Ginebra and the Purefoods franchise remains the biggest rivalry in the PBA. Even though the two teams barely figure in playoff encounters against each other — the two franchises have only met in the finals twice, in 1988 and 1997, despite having been together in the league for 24 seasons — the animosity between the team’s fans have remained heated.
A lot of it has to do with image. Ginebra has always been the franchise of the masses, playing the rough-and-tumble Robert Jaworski game, while Purefoods (now know as B-MEG) has always been the league’s glamor team, in the image of Alvin Patrimonio. The faces of the two teams, Mark Caguioa and James Yap — quite frankly, still the two biggest stars in the PBA today — are spiritual successors of Jaworski and Patrimonio, who first faced off against each other in the 1988 All-Filipino championship, won by the Anejo team that was carried by the Ginebra franchise back then.
Today, the rivalry continues mostly because of the fans — people from both sides dislike each other naturally, philosophically, organically. And that dislike will surely manifest itself when the two teams square off again on Sunday.
Technically, one could argue that the rivalry began before the 1988 All-Filipino conference, when the two teams faced each other in the semifinals of that year’s open conference. That game, which Purefoods won in overtime on the efforts of David Thirdkill, was marred by coin-throwing from Ginebra fans. But Patrimonio was not yet part of the Purefoods franchise then, only joining the Hotdogs in the next conference.