Laugh if you want, but the strangely named Toyota Alvark is a force to be reckoned with.
On the basketball court, that is. It's not a car.
The team Toyota Alvark Tokyo is 90 percent owned by Toyota Motor Corp., and its chairman is Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who appears to be a big supporter.
"Alvark Tokyo subtly possess great power," Toyoda said in a statement in June, in which the carmaker said it has created a new company to manage the team. "Simply by playing, they have the power to invoke energy in their fans."
It's common in Japan for large corporations to field pro teams. In its teal and red team colors, the Alvark have won the Japan Basketball League title four times in the past 15 years and the Emperor's Cup twice. In the most recent season that concluded in May, they ended at 47-8.
The players are considered Toyota employees, even though they are scouted from around the world just to play. Last season, the Alvark had four Americans on the court, including Jeff Gibbs as a captain. The 6-foot-2 center from Ohio goes by the nickname Mr. Incredible.
But what's up with the Alvark name?
Toyota has a convoluted explanation for it that has to do with the Arabic word for "electrical shock" and a reference to an actual ark weathering rough seas.
But never mind that -- the new season starts in September.