Their third confrontation was at the end of the first round of the semifinals on May 10. Purefoods was 3-0 in the semifinals and carrying a 9-4 won-loss card, Ginebra was coming off two losses and at 7-6. This time, we watch it on TV and didn’t went to the ULTRA to see the game live, the Hotdogs did well only in the first quarter which Ginebra took, 32-26. The Gins erected a 15-point lead at the half at 64-49. The Hotdogs had a brief run in the third quarter, cutting the lead to four, there were some exchange of words between Ginebra playing coach Robert Jaworski and Purefoods import David Thirdkill and in one action sequence where Thirdkill missed an easy layup, Jaworski on the other side of the court shows Thirdkill how to do it by scoring his own layup. It was Ginebra all the way from a 92-82 tally at the end of the third period, they got their biggest lead of 22 points at 109-87, the Hotdogs managed to close the gap to seven, 113-120, in the final minute of a won ballgame by Ginebra. The Big J is now 2-1 over El Presidente, following a 124-115 Ginebra victory.
Photo images from the third meeting between Ginebra and Purefoods
Their fourth and final battle was in the last semifinals playing date on May 22. Purefoods with 11 wins and six losses are one win away from challenging San Miguel Beer for the Open Conference crown, the beermen enter the finals three nights before. Ginebra with 10 wins and seven losses, must beat the Hotdogs to force a do-or-die, sudden death playoff. Unlike in their first two games in the eliminations, we had a better view this time sitting in the lower level seats. Fans at the venue were earlier treated to a no-bearing first game between two ousted teams, Alaska and Great Taste, won by the Milkmen, 152-129.
The last match between the two rivals turn out to be closest game in four meetings. Ginebra led by three points in the first three quarters, 36-33, 60-57 and 85-82. In the fourth period, Purefoods were in danger of being forced into a knockout game as they were down by six, 86-92, the Hotdogs responded with an 8-1 run to take the lead, 94-93, a triple by Leo Isaac gave Ginebra a four-point edge, 100-96, going into the last five minutes. The Hotdogs were so close in losing the match in regulation, trailing 102-104 in the last minute and with several turnovers, luckily for them, a steal and a basket tied the count at 104-all, the Hotdogs got another steal with time winding down on Ginebra’s final possession and David Thirdkill missed a hurried three-pointer as the game went into overtime.
Ginebra last tasted the lead at 107-106 and with the score 111-109 in Purefoods favor after Thirdkill split his free throws, the Ginebras called a timeout to design one final play, the Ginebras wasted so much time on the clock and Jamie Waller missed his game-tying basket at close range, Purefoods playing-coach Ramon Fernandez ran towards the centercourt in jubilation as the Hotdogs enter the finals in their very first conference in the PBA. Some fans at the gallery section pelted the court with plastic cups and threw sorts of debris at the post-game, although not as worse as to what happened in the Hills Bros-Ginebra playoff last year.
Ramon Fernandez aims for history as he raises his arms after Purefoods beat Ginebra in overtime to enter the finals.
The tense-filled atmosphere and rivalry between these two teams got the best on their imports, David Thirdkill of Purefoods and Jamie Waller of Ginebra. Thirdkill at times, tried to do everything on his own when often jeered and provoked with boos from the Ginebra fans, while Waller’s intensity in the game was just unparalled and unequalled.