Lugano's Harold Mrazek, considered Switzerland's best basketball player, is headed for the French league. Mrazek has signed a three-year contract with Villeurbanne, one of France's top clubs.
The player had extended his contract with Lugano for another two years. But the Ticino club agreed to release Mrazek so he could fulfil his ambition of playing for a foreign club.
"This is the challenge I've been waiting for," said Mrazek. "I've never had to compete with 10 other players to get a place on the team."
Villeurbanne's offer, just three days before the start of training, came as a huge surprise to Mrazek.
"I thought I was going to stay for another year or two at Lugano," he said. "It's a dream come true to be wanted by a great team and a great coach."
Villeurbanne have reached the finals of French league for five of the past six years. The team has a new coach this season, Bogdan Tanjevic, who took Italy to the European championship.
As well as playing the domestic championship, the French club will also take part in the Euroleague.
Mrazek, a guard, is best known as a sharpshooter, regularly scoring from beyond the three-point line. He played for Fribourg Olympic and Bellinzona before joining Lugano.
He came to the notice of a number of foreign clubs thanks to his strong play with the national team. "Tanjevic said he saw me play the year Switzerland took on the Italian national team," said Mrazek.
Mrazek's record is the best among active Swiss players - in the past ten years he has chalked up eight league titles and six Swiss cups. He is the second Swiss player to land a foreign contract, after Igor Gojanovic.
swissinfo with agencies