The world number two side dominated as expected racing into an early advantage and maintaining it throughout, winning 74-58.
But Great Britain, ranked 47 places below, put up a spirited performance against their toughest group opponent, a side that Maher coached to Olympic silver and bronze at the 1996 and 2000 Games.
All-Star Lauren Jackson, Maher's one-time star pupil and Australia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony, scored a game high 18 points in a forceful and imposing display.
Natalie Stafford, who sported a vicious looking black eye, and Jo Leedham were Great Britain's top points contributors, with 12 and 11 points respectively.
"To play the number two team in the world was a tough start to the tournament but I'm really happy with how we played," said Maher, who was denied the services of injured point guard Jenaya Wade-Frey.
"There are always things you could do better but overall I'm very proud of the girls and how they acquired themselves.
"We've got our feet wet in the tournament now."
Maher's team didn't start their match until 10.15pm which meant a late night, especially after they were the only British athletes involved in Saturday action that had marched at the previous night's opening ceremony.
"I don't see it as an adversity," he insisted.
"Swimmers might be different but we are used to playing three games a week and finishing late at night.
"Every basketball team I've been involved with has been given the opportunity to be involved and I certainly wouldn't want to take that chance away from them.
"The organisers also did a really good job, sometimes it can be hell getting through the crowds but all the girls were back in the village in good time."
Great Britain will continue their group matches against Canada on Monday, a game scheduled for an 8pm start.
- Great Britain